Rene Marie is nothing if not brave. She sang The Star Spangled Banner at Denver’s 2008 State of the City address, substituting the original words with those of James Weldon Johnson’s so-called black national anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” It created a political firestorm. “I cannot apologize for offending others with my music. It goes with the risky territory of being an artist,” says Marie, who acknowledges the “huge, huge” influence of Nina Simone. Continue reading here.