Oh, Canada: Saskatchewan singer proud despite flak over anthem at NBA Finals

A Saskatchewan-born country singer says she has no regrets about putting her own spin on O Canada before Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

Tenille Arts says she heard from a lot of people who loved her rendition of the national anthem on Wednesday night in Oakland, Calif., where the Toronto Raptors beat the Golden State Warriors to take a 2-1 lead in the championship basketball series.

But the 25-year-old, who is originally from Weyburn, admits there were also negative online comments about some flourishes she added to the melody.

“The main goal as a Canadian is to sing the anthem with pride and that’s what I wanted to do,” Arts said in an interview Thursday as she was about to catch a flight home to Nashville, Tenn.

Several people on Twitter have accused Arts of “butchering” the anthem by veering away from its familiar tune.

But many others tweeted praise, including Canadian country star Brett Kissel who wrote: “Stop throwing shade. ↕TenilleArts did a GREAT version of our anthem … Period.”

Arts, who has performed O Canada at several smaller sports venues, is making no apologies for singing the anthem her way.

“A lot of people really loved it,” she said. “I think that the people that didn’t like it just didn’t like the change and that’s fine. But that’s the way that I sing it.”

Arts said she found out a week ago that she would be singing at the NBA game. She was nervous and excited on stage.

Her performance was followed by members of the metal band Metallica, who performed an instrumental version of the American anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.

“It was amazing, definitely an unforgettable experience,” Arts said.

Colleen Weimer, a retired music teacher and choir director at Weyburn Comprehensive School, said the southern Saskatchewan city is abuzz.

“There’s lots of hometown pride about Tenille.”

Weimer described Arts as hardworking and shy during her time in the choir. She recalled that Arts starred as Ado Annie in the musical “Oklahoma!” during her last year of high school.

Arts did a great job singing O Canada, Weimer said.

“She added her own personal touches to it and she made it the national anthem sang by Tenille Arts and that’s what you need to do.”

It isn’t the first time a performance of Canada’s national anthem has been divisive.

There was a harsh backlash to Victoria singer Nelly Furtado’s flute-accompanied version during the NBA all-star game in 2016, which also deviated from the traditional melody.

The same year at the Major League Baseball all-star game, a member of The Tenors created a furor when he incorporated the phrase “all lives matter” into O Canada, causing his ouster from the group. Many saw the alteration as an insult to the anti-racism Black Lives Matter movement.

The Tenors, minus the rogue member, opened Game 1 of the NBA Finals last week singing O Canada without incident.

In 1994, Dennis Parks’ performance of O Canada at a Canadian Football League game in Las Vegas sounded more like O Christmas Tree.

The vice president of communications for the CFL described being flooded with faxes and phone calls in a Baltimore Sun article at the time. Then-prime minister Jean Chretien also got an apology from the Las Vegas Posse team owner.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Canadian officials say more coronavirus cases expected but risk ‘remains low’

The first Canadian patient diagnosed with coronavirus began showing signs of illness… Continue reading

Human remains found in burned Alberta hotel after ice thaws enough to permit search

WETASKIWIN, Alta. — Police in Alberta say that after a week of… Continue reading

Tumour on Edmonton woman’s liver was rare parasite, not cancer

EDMONTON — Cassidy Armstrong says she washes her hands, cleans her vegetables… Continue reading

Man who flew to Toronto from China is Canada’s first coronavirus case

TORONTO — A man in his 50s who travelled to Toronto from… Continue reading

WATCH: Songwriters discuss what makes a great country tune, creative process

Alberta Country Music Awards Songwriters Showcase was held in Red Deer Saturday

Fashion Fridays: The basics you need for your body type

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Feb. 1 A Jump Rope Competition will be held at the Abbey… Continue reading

Virus death toll in China rises as US prepares evacuation

BEIJING — A new viral illness being watched with a wary eye… Continue reading

Alberta open to extending Feb. 28 deadline for high-tech panel report

EDMONTON — Alberta’s economic development minister says she is open to extending… Continue reading

‘Supersites’ in Iqaluit, Whitehorse to improve Arctic weather forecasting

Weather matters in the Arctic like it does in few other places,… Continue reading

Canadian Forces sending plane and crew to help fight Australia’s fires

OTTAWA — Canada is sending a military transport plane and about 15… Continue reading

‘There are many degrees of hate’: Quebec blogger takes on far right

MONTREAL — Far-right group La Meute was once seen as a growing… Continue reading

Metis leaders raise concerns about national council, call for reform

OTTAWA — The regional Metis presidents of Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan are… Continue reading

Weersink and Kings shutout top-ranked NAIT Ooks

Queens hockey also knock off Olds College Broncos

Most Read