How did a British-Israeli grandmother’s musical composition get onto the playlist for the January 20 inauguration parade for US President Donald Trump?
Loretta Weinberger will not be sure of the backstory until a planned visit to the Trumps in the spring. All she knows is that she received a text message from the president-elect in mid-January requesting permission to use her “Gonna Keep America Singing” at the event.
“It was rather a surprise,” Weinberger tells ISRAEL21c.
She was on her way home to Ra’anana from a music festival in Eilat when the message arrived and she wondered if it was a joke. But she replied in the affirmative.
It was not the first presidential communique about her patriotic song.
“Gonna Keep America Singing” was performed at the 2013 Fourth of July party at the US ambassador’s residence in Israel. The United States Marine Band was there, as was Weinberger, and the band later asked her for the copyrighted sheet music.
“I sent them the music and sometime later I got a lovely letter from President Obama,” she relates.
He wrote to Weinberger on White House stationery: “The lyrics and melody are obviously heartfelt and without doubt, it will give many people across the United States and those serving our country overseas much pleasure to listen to it and to sing it.”
Somehow word of the song reached Trump. With her permission, the Marine Band performed it instrumentally during a parade before Trump’s inauguration as America’s 45th president.
Weinberger watched the event from Israel; she had been invited to Washington but wasn’t able to go on such short notice. Instead she accepted Trump’s offer to introduce her to his family when she comes to the United States in the spring.
Weinberger, an ASCAP member who writes under the penname Loretta Kay-Feld, lived in the United States during the late 1970s and early 1980s. She composed many songs for “Sesame Street” and other Children’s Television Workshop TV shows before moving back to her native England to work on an operetta. She relocated to Israel eight years ago.
Her motivation for writing “Gonna Keep America Singing” was entirely apolitical. “I really just wanted to unite the country with song. I’ve written hymns for Israel, too. My purpose in life is to make people smile with music, whether children or adults.”
Weinberger currently is hoping to start a nonprofit organization to provide instruments for Israeli children who can’t afford music lessons.
In addition to her Chimes Music endeavors, which include original music for websites, Weinberger has written children’s books. Her latest project is an Australian adventure story that “encapsulates Aboriginal culture and awareness through the mythical magic and bonding of hybrid animals and a young Aboriginal boy with a quest to save his people.”