By Anne Jewell, VP, Executive Director.
Have you seen the new Linkin’ Bridge version of My Old Kentucky Home ?
More than 2 million people have, and we were thrilled to play a part in it!
Here’s what went down by The Big Bat –
It was a nice day, and a few of our team members had their windows open. They heard some heavenly harmonies floating up from Main Street.
Our curator, Chris Meiman, popped into my office as I was meeting with our Marketing Manager, Lucy English.
“You might want to check out what’s happening out front,” he said.
Now, this news could have been good or bad. In my 17-years here I’ve seen all kinds of stuff unfold unexpectedly at the foot of The Big Bat. That’s perhaps another blog for another day. Let’s just say our giant, iconic photo-op is a non-stop source of entertainment, and usually it’s fun and harmless.
Lucy and I just looked at Chris. And he just maintained a puckish grin.
We abandoned our chairs and made a beeline for the windows.
We heard them before we saw them.
Craning our necks, trying to confirm the source of those sweet sounds, we laid eyes on the quartet.
“Is that Linkin’ Bridge?” I asked. “I think it might be!”
Louisville’s own Linkin’ Bridge (pictured below) made it to the Season 11 finals of America’s Got Talent. Ekoe Alexanda, Montre Davis, Shon China Lacy, and Big Rome met as teenagers decades ago and still call Louisville their home.
It looked like they were wrapping up their video shoot. Lucy and I raced down the stairs. By the time we hit the street, they were half a block away.
Being in the marketing and PR biz, sometimes you have to chase people down.
This was one of those times.
We caught up to them and introduced ourselves. They told us about the new video they were shooting.
We had to ask, “Could we get a few shots of you by The Big Bat and help promote your new song?”
They were on a tight schedule but graciously agreed.
As they walked back, we dashed upstairs to grab a camera and our 5-foot bat.
They had a blast with the bat, and they were a delight to be around. Fun, approachable, humble. The foursome happily posed for pictures with fans who gathered during our impromptu photo shoot.
My Old Kentucky Home has a fascinating history. Written around 1852 by Stephen Foster, it was an anti-slavery ballad, praised by the likes of abolitionist Frederick Douglass. I love the fresh, contemporary spin Linkin’ Bridge has put on the song that is now so associated with this weekend’s Kentucky Derby.
Author’s Correction, 6/21/2022
In her newly published book, My Old Kentucky Home – The Astonishing Life and Reckoning of an Iconic American Song, Emily Bingham lays out a meticulous and definitive history of the song, making a clear case that it was not written as an anti-slavery ballad and that, “a single speech by Frederick Douglass has recently been seized upon to claim that Foster was either an abolitionist or a sympathetic fellow traveler bearing Douglass’s stamp of approval. This is flatly not true.” (Bingham, 2022, p. 34)
In 2020, Linkin’ Bridge addressed the controversy around the song and their decision to perform it: “When we sing ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ we are not concerned with what negative history the song has but how we can portray the song in a brand new light so that now when people hear us sing it, it doesn't represent something hateful or racist but something wholesome and pure. Our vision of a Kentucky home is not a particular house or building but a Kentucky where men and women can be free to express themselves freely without having to be judged, discriminated against or ridiculed.” You can read their entire Message to America here.