Steve Hamilton, Digital Media Director
Now that the dust has finally settled from The Tenor’s Canadian national anthem gaffe, let’s have a look at what happened, how they handled it, and what we can learn from it.
For the uninitiated, here’s a brief recap of what went down. During the Canadian national anthem for the hugely popular MLB All-Star Game, one of the members of the acapella singing group, The Tenors, changed the lyrics from “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.” The Canadian anthem was not broadcast in the United States , but it was shown in Canada.
This was the action of a single person in the group, who did not inform or discuss his actions with the rest of the group ahead of time. How can you hope to save the group’s reputation in the aftermath when a member of your organization uses the spotlight as an opportunity to express personal political beliefs? Let’s look at how the group handled this controversy and if they used good crisis management techniques.
In the video at 0:25, you can see the other members give Remigio Pereira a sideways glance the moment they realize he’s not singing the correct lyrics. At this moment, the crisis clock is already ticking.. Before the rest of the anthem was even sung, social media was already ablaze with people criticizing the move, and The Tenors had to act fast. They immediately released their statement, which states they are “deeply sorry” and “shocked and embarrassed” over what they termed a “disrespectful and misguided lack of judgment by one member of the group.”” The Tenors handled it about as well as they could have. They immediately sent out the apology and distanced themselves from Pereira. He was removed from the group and was said to not represent the motives/actions of the group itself. The group simply could not move forward with Pereira and leave the controversy behind. In order to maintain some semblance of good reputation they had earned in the years of their performing, they needed to demonstrate a true commitment to not being involved with the controversial action. In a CBC interview a few days later, they reiterated earlier statements of no longer performing with Pereira.
This was the biggest stage The Tenors had ever performed on, and one member put the reputation of the entire group at risk for personal and political gain. The Tenors will continue to be Canadian ambassadors singing the anthem amongst other songs all over the world, and will need to have a of policy outlined to ensure that no member ever uses such a grand stage to advance their personal political agenda. Let this be a lesson to all: it only takes one member, one moment to damage your reputation, so be with members you trust, but above all make sure you have a plan in case someone goes rogue.