Why weren’t UofL singers allowed to perform ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ at the Derby?

Churchill Downs blames ‘miscommunication’
Why weren’t UofL singers allowed to perform ‘My Old Kentucky Home’ at the Derby?
Published: May. 12, 2023 at 6:08 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - When the University of Louisville Band performed “My Old Kentucky Home” at the start of this year’s Derby, the singers scheduled to perform with them weren’t on the stage.

The song lyrics are a source of controversy, criticized as romanticizing times of slavery.

Churchill Downs Inc. Communications VP Tonya Abelin attributed the change to a “miscommunication.”

Responding to WAVE News inquiries, Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI) on Friday revealed it was the result of a mistake by the production team and had nothing to do with the song’s lyrics.

According to a CDI statement, “...a rapid-paced miscommunication between production and audio teams,” led to a regrettable circumstance in which the singers were told they would not be performing alongside the UofL Marching Band and because of the nature of live television, the moment proceeded before the error could be corrected.

CDI said that miscommunication was over concerns about audio feedback from too many microphones on the field, resulting in the erroneous decision.

The company expressed apologies to the University and praised the Cardinal Singers.

“In a crowd of over 150,000 people, they (Cardinal Singers) have become integral to helping keep pace for fans who wish to sing along and leading the emotional swell that follows the Call to Post,” the CDI statement said. Friday afternoon.

UofL also responded.

”The Cardinal Singers work hard every year to prepare for their performance before a national audience at the Kentucky Derby,” UofL Executive Director of Communications, John Karman said in a statement. “They were understandably disappointed that they didn’t get to perform this year. Both UofL and the singers enjoy a wonderful relationship with our neighbor, Churchill Downs, and it is encouraging to hear that our students will get to showcase their talents at the historic racetrack again sometime soon.”

CDI said, “The voices of these talented singers were noticeably missed and we look forward to hosting them at Churchill Downs in the near future as a way to apologize for the inconvenience and the misunderstanding. In addition, we are inviting the seniors who may have missed the opportunity this year to join us next year for the 150th Kentucky Derby so they can be a memorable part of our milestone celebration.”