Here are several songs performed in her unique style by the legendary singer Kate Smith.
Kathryn Elizabeth Smith (1907 – 1986), known professionally as Kate Smith and The First Lady of Radio, was an American singer, a contralto, best known for her rendition of Irving Berlin's "God Bless America".
She had a radio, television, and recording career spanning five decades, which reached its pinnacle in the 1940s. Smith became known as The Songbird of the South after her enduring popularity during World War II and contribution to American culture and patriotism.
As a baby, she failed to talk until she was 4 years old. But a year later she was singing in church socials and by the time she was 8 she was singing for the troops at Army camps in the Washington area during World War I. Alarmed by his daughter's evident penchant for the stage, William Smith made her take up nursing at George Washington University Hospital. She stuck it out a few months, quit and got herself on the bill at Keith's Theater as a singer.
Heading the bill was the actor and producer Eddie Dowling who signed up the young singer for a revue he was preparing. It was called Honeymoon Lane, and it opened in Atlantic City on Aug. 29, 1926. A month later it moved to Broadway.
A review in The New York Times on Oct. 31, 1926, under the heading A Sophie Tucker Rival, said: A 19-year-old girl, weighing in the immediate neighborhood of 200 pounds, is one of the discoveries of the season for those whose interests run to syncopators and singers of what in the varieties and nightclubs are known as 'hot' songs. Kate Smith is the newcomer's not uncommon name. She was actually only 17 at the time.
From Honeymoon Lane, Miss Smith went into the road company of Vincent Youmans's Hit the Deck, where she won acclaim singing Hallelujah! Back in New York she took the company lead in George White's Flying High, which opened at the Apollo Theater on March 3, 1930, and ran for 122 performances.
Smith began recording in 1926. Her professional musical career began in 1930, when she was discovered by Columbia Records vice president Ted Collins, who became her longtime manager in 50–50 partnership. Collins put Smith on radio in 1931. That year, she performed the top-twenty song of 1931, "That's Why Darkies Were Born" and "Dream a Little Dream of Me." Her biggest hits were "River, Stay 'Way From My Door" (1931), "The Woodpecker Song" (1940), "The White Cliffs of Dover" (1941), "Rose O'Day" (1941), "The Last Time I Saw Paris" (1942), "I Don't Want to Walk Without You" (1942), "There Goes That Song Again" (1944), "Seems Like Old Times" (1946), and "Now Is the Hour" (1947). "Rose O'Day" sold over one million copies, her first to achieve this feat, and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA. Her theme song was "When the Moon Comes over the Mountain"; she had helped write the lyrics. Smith greeted her audience with "Hello, everybody!" and signed off with "Thanks for listenin'."
In 1932, Smith appeared in Hello, Everybody!, with co-stars Randolph Scott and Sally Blane, and in the 1943 wartime film This is the Army she sang "God Bless America".
Smith was a major star of radio, usually backed by Jack Miller's Orchestra. She began with her twice-a-week NBC series, Kate Smith Sings (quickly expanded to six shows a week), followed by a series of shows for CBS: Kate Smith and Her Swanee Music (1931–33), sponsored by La Palina Cigars; The Kate Smith Matinee (1934–35); The Kate Smith New Star Revue (1934–35); Kate Smith's Coffee Time (1935–36), sponsored by A&P; and The Kate Smith A&P Bandwagon (1936–37).
The Kate Smith Hour was a leading radio variety show, offering comedy, music and drama with appearances by top personalities of films and theater for eight years (1937–45). The show's resident comics, Abbott and Costello and Henny Youngman, introduced their comedy to a nationwide radio audience aboard her show, while a series of sketches based on the Broadway production of the same name led to The Aldrich Family as separate hit series in its own right in 1940.
Smith also made a dramatic appearance, starring in "Little Johnny Appleseed" on Silver Theater May 14, 1944.
Smith starred in The Kate Smith Hour on NBC Television from 1950 through 1954, hosting until 1953 in the late afternoon hour of 4:00 p.m. ET.
She continued on the Mutual Broadcasting System, CBS, ABC, and NBC, doing both music and talk shows on radio until 1960.
From January 25 to July 18, 1960, Smith hosted The Kate Smith Show, a variety program on the CBS Television Monday evening schedule. On October 2, 1966, Smith performed on the British television show, Sunday Night at the London Palladium.
Because of her popularity, her face was a common sight in print advertisements of the day. Over the years, she acted as a commercial spokesman for numerous companies such as Studebaker, Pullman, Diamond Crystal Salt, and Jell-O.
When the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team played Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" before their game on December 11, 1969, an unusual part of her career began. The team began to play the song before home games every once in a while; the perception was that the team was more successful on these occasions, so the tradition grew.
At the Flyers' home opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs on October 11, 1973, she made a surprise appearance to perform the song in person and received a tremendous reception. The Flyers won that game by a 2–0 score. She again performed the song at the Spectrum in front of a capacity crowd of 17,007 fans before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals on May 19, 1974, against the Boston Bruins. Before that game, Smith had a "Flyer Record" of 36–3–1. Boston's forward, Phil Esposito, infamously tried to jinx the Flyers' "good luck charm" by presenting her with a bouquet of roses after her performance. The Flyers won their first of two back-to-back Stanley Cups, winning that playoff series against the Boston Bruins 4 games to 2, with Bernie Parent shutting the Bruins out 1–0 in that game.
Smith also performed live at Flyers home games on May 13, 1975, when the Flyers beat the New York Islanders 4–1 to win Game 7 of the Stanley Cup semi-finals, and on May 16, 1976 (one of her final public performances), before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, when the Flyers lost to the Montreal Canadiens 5–3 and were swept in that series.
The Flyers' record when "God Bless America" is played or sung in person stood at a remarkable 94 wins, 26 losses, and 4 ties as of April 26, 2011. Smith and her song remain a special part of Flyers' history. In 1987, the team erected a statue of Smith outside their arena at the time, the Spectrum, in her memory. The Flyers still show a video of her singing "God Bless America" in lieu of "The Star Spangled Banner" for good luck before important games. The video of her performance is now accompanied by Lauren Hart, daughter of the late Hockey Hall of Fame broadcaster, Gene Hart, longtime voice of the Flyers, and anthem singer for the Flyers. Before games whenever God Bless America is performed, Lou Nolan, the PA announcer for the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center would say: "Ladies and gentlemen, at this time, we ask that you please rise and remove your hats and salute to our flags and welcome the number 1 ranked anthemist in the NHL, Lauren Hart, as she sings (if the visiting team is from Canada, O Canada (or Canadian national anthem) followed by) God Bless America, accompanied by the great Kate Smith."
Smith was 5' 10" tall and weighed 235 pounds at the age of 30. She titled her 1938 autobiography Living in a Great Big Way.
She was the Grand Marshal for the 1976 Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game. She sang "God Bless America" before the Ohio State–UCLA game at the Rose Bowl, which UCLA won 23–10.
Smith's rendition of "God Bless America" is also played during the 7th-inning stretch of New York Yankees home games. Proceeds or money from her performances of "God Bless America" are donated to the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts.
She did a command performance for King George VI and Queen Elizabeth at the White House on June 8, 1939.
She was chairman of screen, stage and radio activities under the National Recovery Administration, a part of FDR's New Deal.
Honorary member of the Red Cross for which she raised more than $4 million.
She was the only radio artist to be listed among the ten leading American women by the publication "American Women".
She was the only private citizen ever awarded the Legion of Valor medal, the only private citizen privileged to use the President's entrance to Union Station, Washington.
She was awarded Patriotic Service Cross by United Flag Association. Only three other women have ever been so honored.
Smith was inducted posthumously into the Radio Hall of Fame in 1999. She was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame in 2009.
In 2010, a U.S. commemorative stamp was issued featuring stamp art duplicating artwork created for the cover of a CD titled Kate Smith: The Songbird of the South. The artwork was based on a photograph of Smith taken in the 1960s.
On July 21, 2011, Smith's version of "God Bless America" was played as NASA's final wake-up call for the space shuttle Atlantis, ending the 30-year shuttle program.
On October 26, 1982, Smith received the Presidential Medal of Freedom America's highest civilian honor, by U.S. President Ronald Reagan. In bestowing the honor, Reagan said:
« The voice of Kate Smith is known and loved by millions of Americans, young and old. In war and peace, it has been an inspiration. Those simple but deeply moving words, 'God bless America,' have taken on added meaning for all of us because of the way Kate Smith sang them. Thanks to her they have become a cherished part of all our lives, an undying reminder of the beauty, the courage and the heart of this great land of ours. In giving us a magnificent, selfless talent like Kate Smith, God has truly blessed America. »
Enjoy Kate Smith’s vibrant style!
Somewhere my love
Climb ev'ry mountain
Who can I turn to