BWW TV: Watch Lilli Cooper, Laura Osnes & Javier Munoz Sing Irving Berlin on Liberty Island!
The Statue of Liberty Museum on Liberty Island opened to the public today following a dedication ceremony presented by The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc. The ceremony featured performances by Tony Award Nominee Laura Osnes, Tony Award Nominee Lilli Cooper and Javier Muñoz. They paid tribute to Irving Berlin by performing some of his iconic songs including "God Bless America," "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor,""Shaking the Blues Away," and "Blue Skies" to celebrate the opening of this new museum.
Irving Berlin was inspired by the Statue of Liberty when he immigrated to New York with his family in 1893 while fleeing persecution and the pogroms. More than a half-century after his arrival at the foot of the Statute of Liberty, Irving Berlin stood in front of the marquee of the brand-new Broadway musical, Miss Liberty, a celebration of that same monument. Berlin not only wrote the music and lyrics to the new score - his sixteenth full score for Broadway - he also co-produced the show. Within six decades, Berlin had utterly transformed American popular song. The Statue of Liberty Museum honored Irving Berlin today, both as an immigrant who loved this country and as a songwriter who changed the face of American music. As Jerome Kern epitomized, "Irving Berlin has no place in American music - he is American music."
"God Bless America" was written by Berlin on his way back to America after attending the London premiere of his film Alexander's Ragtime Band. The response to "God Bless America" was overwhelmingly positive and there was a call to make it America's new national anthem. In 1940, Irving Berlin said what he hoped most for "God Bless America" was "that it would continue to be popular, especially in these days when so many people feel a need for some vocal expression of their patriotism."
"Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor" from the Broadway musical Miss Liberty, was also written by Berlin who was inspired by the last lines of Emma Lazarus' sonnet "The New Colossus," which appears on The Statue of Liberty. Lazarus's sonnet was recited at the ceremony dedicating the Statue of Liberty in 1886, so it is very fitting that "Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor" was performed today at the opening dedication of The Statue of Liberty Museum.
Check out highlights from the celebration below!