How the Tenors struck out with O Canada at the MLB all-star game

The Tenors, Canada's popular vocal quartet, are apologizing for not only altering the lyrics to O Canada at Tuesday's Major League Baseball all-star game, but inserting a political and controversial statement in its place.

National anthem lyrics changed to 'all lives matter,' Remigio Pereira gets the blame and the boot

Remigio Pereira, seen here performing with The Tenors in Phoenix, Ariz., in April, is being blamed by the rest of the group for taking a political stance on his own. (Mike Moore/Getty Images)

The Tenors, Canada's popular vocal quartet, are apologizing for not only altering the lyrics to O Canada at Tuesday's Major League Baseball all-star game, but inserting a political and controversial statement in its place.

During the on-field performance at San Diego's Petco Park, a line in the anthem during Remigio Pereira's solo was changed to include the words "all lives matter."

Tenor changes lyrics of national anthem at MLB All-Star Game

6 years ago
Duration 0:19
Remigio Pereira inserts 'all lives matter' during solo

The B.C.-based group hastily released a statement on its website and on social media after it was over, calling the incident a "shameful act." Group members are blaming Remigio Pereira, who they say acted as a "lone wolf" to "serve his own political views."

Pereira tried to explain his reasons for going rogue in a series of tweets.

"I've been so moved lately by the tragic loss of life," he posted late Tuesday night. "I hoped for a positive statement that would bring us ALL together."

What happened?

As The Tenors performed O Canada before the start of the all-star game, Pereira changed "With glowing hearts we see thee rise, the True North strong and free" to "We're all brothers and sisters, all lives matter to the great."

In addition to the change in lyrics, Pereira also held up a sign he pulled from inside his jacket that read: "All Lives Matter".

The rest of the quartet appeared taken aback but picked up the rest of that section in French and continued the anthem.

Read The Tenors' full mea culpa and Pereira's tweets about his decision below.

The Tenors perform in April at the 2016 Juno Awards in Calgary. (/Mike Ridewood/Reuters)

Who are The Tenors?

The Juno-winning quartet is made up of Clifton Murray, Fraser Walters, Victor Micallef and Pereira. The Tenors are known for their operatic take on pop music and have shared the stage with Justin Bieber, Neil Young and Paul McCartney, among other major acts.

The foursome also sang at the opening ceremonies of 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver and for Queen Elizabeth during her Diamond Jubilee celebrations at Windsor Castle in 2013.

The Tenors, from left, Fraser Walters, Clifton Murray, Victor Micallef and Remigio Pereira in a 2010 file photo. (Damian Dovarganes/The Associated Press)

The Tenors have recorded multiple platinum albums in Canada and also enjoyed considerable popularity stateside, signing an American distribution deal in 2012.

They've performed at a number of high-profile gigs in the U.S., including the National Christmas Tree Lighting in Washington in 2014 in front of the Obamas, alongside Céline Dion on The Oprah Winfrey Show as well as at the 2011 Emmy Awards in Los Angeles.

Why 'all lives matter' is controversial

Changing the lyrics of a national anthem is considered highly inappropriate.

But the term "all lives matter" has become particularly controversial because it's seen as a response to the Black Lives Matter movement, which campaigns against racism and police brutality directed toward the black community.

"All lives matter" has been suggested by some as a more inclusive title for the Black Lives Matter movement.

But it also implies that all lives are equally at risk, despite numerous studies that show black men are much more likely to be killed by police officers in the U.S. 

Many argue it minimizes the systemic issues of racism that the black community is dealing with, particularly in the U.S.

While some black celebrities, including Fetty Wap and Janet Jackson, have used the term "all lives matter," they've faced a tremendous amount of backlash as a result.

How did people react?

Although the audio wasn't crystal clear at the park, many fans reacted with surprise.

While it wasn't shown live on American television, reaction was swift and severe in Canada, where the anthem was broadcast.

What happens next?

The Tenors called Pereira's actions "extremely selfish" in their statement and said he won't be performing with the group "until further notice."

A representative for The Tenors, Adrienne Kakoullis, told CBC News no one from the group would be available for an interview and wouldn't respond to any followup questions.


Zulekha Nathoo

Digital/Broadcast reporter, L.A.

Zulekha Nathoo is a breaking news and entertainment reporter based in Los Angeles. From the Oscars to the Grammys, she's interviewed some of the biggest names in showbiz including Celine Dion and Denzel Washington. She also works on-air covering news events and spent more than a decade at CBC stations across Canada, including Toronto and Calgary. Follow her on Twitter/Instagram: @zulekhanathoo.

With files from the Canadian Press


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