Clinton jokes about her singing voice

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was the main draw late this afternoon at a fundraiser for State Senator Staci Appel (D-Ackworth).  Appel pronounces her name like the fruit.  A meal was served, but the menu did not feature apple pie, apple sauce or even apple crisp.  Perhaps Appel has not succombed to the temptation of having a signature fruit. 

The warm-up band which had a kind of folksy twang played very recognizable numbers like the "Iowa Waltz" by Greg Brown.  Reporters were a bit puzzled when they chose to play "Rocky Top."  Perhaps they thought Lamar Alexander, Al Gore or Fred Thompson were coming, too.

Clinton arrived about a half hour later than billed and walked into what we farm kids would call a Morton Building on the Warren County Fairgrounds. Appel referred to it as a barn.  Appel was introduced by a couple of gentlemen the Indianola area.  One said he was "kinda famous" for his blond jokes, but his wife had advised him against telling any.  (Both Appel and Clinton are blonds.)  When Clinton got the microphone, she advised the two men they might want to get their own radio show.

Clinton then launched into her speech.  Afterwards, she took three questions.  You can listen to the Q&A by clicking on this Radio Iowa story — the audio file is at the bottom.   In it, you’ll hear Clinton joking about being tone deaf.

"Hi senator.  I go to the school in town and I’m a music student and I’m about to graduate and I have a lot of friends who are going to be BMEs — Bachelor of Music Education — and they’re great people and they really believe in their subject and but with this No Child Left Behind program, arts are being cut left and right.  I’m afraid my friends aren’t going to have jobs.  I’m afraid I’m not going to have a job and I just remember in school having all these great music teachers who helped me and will you do something?" the questioner asked.

"Yes, I will," Clinton said in reply.  "Anyone who’s ever heard me sing on YouTube knows I can’t sing." 

The audience started laughing.  A few clapped.

"I mean, you know, it’s really tragic because it always sounds right to my ears and I love to sing.  I mean, you should hear me in the shower.  It’s operatic," Clinton said.

The crowd laughed.

"But I love music and I cherish music and I think back to my own years in school and the music teachers that would come into our classrooms.  You know, when I was in elementary school we had a music teacher that would go from classroom to classroom and she exposed us to classical music and to opera and to different instruments and told us how bands were made up and how orchestras worked and you know I never would have learned any of that and I never would have come to appreciate that if I hadn’t been exposed to it.

"You know, when I was in high school — still deluded about my musical ability I tried out for the spring musical and the director was a friend of mine and he told me I could be in it as long as I just lip-sinced," Clinton said.

The crowd laughed.

"So you know, I know how miportant the arts are because not every person and certainly not every student learns the same way.  You know, music and art and exposure to a different set of cultural experiences can ignite such a creative passion and imagination in some people and I worry that No Child Left Behind — with it’s emphasis on tests which are primarily one way of learning, you know, you sit and you listen and you try to absorb and then you try to give it back — is going to leave so many kids out, kids who are artistically inclined, who have musical ability, kids who learn by making things.

"You know, if you were stranded on a desert island the people you would want are the people who know how to make things and that is a legitimate form of learning so I get very passionate about this because I think we are in danger of narrowing curriculum and leaving children behind, the very opposite of what they expected to have happen," Clinton said.

The crowd applauded.

Here’s the YouTube link.  It’s Clinton singing the National Anthem at Des Moines East High during her first trip to Iowa as a candidate for president.

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About O.Kay Henderson

O. Kay Henderson is the news director of Radio Iowa.


  1. At least he’s got a good sense of humour if not an operatic voice!