Opera's Renee Fleming 'touched' to be singing 'Danny Boy' at John McCain's funeral

As he fought the brain cancer that would take his life, John McCain would often sit in his favorite spot on ...

Posted: Sep 1, 2018 9:44 AM
Updated: Sep 1, 2018 9:44 AM

As he fought the brain cancer that would take his life, John McCain would often sit in his favorite spot on the porch of his Arizona cabin on the Oak Creek, and listen to the famous ancient Irish song "Danny Boy."

One day, when his friend and former campaign manager Rick Davis was there with him, McCain said he wanted "Danny Boy" sung at his funeral.

Arts and entertainment

Funerals

John McCain

Music

Music and dance

Music groups and artists

Musical styles

Opera

Political Figures - US

Singers and musicians

Davis suggested that award-winning opera singer Renee Fleming be the one to sing it, and McCain teared up.

Several weeks ago, Davis formally requested that Fleming sing at Saturday's service at the National Cathedral.

"I'm so incredibly touched that he asked for this and that he asked for me to sing it. I'm very moved by that," Fleming told CNN in an interview.

Fleming is starring in "Carousel" on Broadway, and missing a performance is no small thing. She had to get permission from the producer, Scott Rudin.

"It is a big deal, actually, and typically it would be denied for almost anything, because our commitment is to the Broadway theater and to the audience in NY. But Scott Rudin immediately said, 'Yes, of course you must go,' " Fleming said.

To be sure, Fleming has sung at many a big event, from a Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to the Olympics. She even sang "Danny Boy" at the Kennedy Center in 2013.

But she says singing it at a sendoff for McCain, at his behest, is an unparalleled honor.

"He stood so much for the American values that I certainly treasured growing up; for independent thinking, for collaboration and that extraordinary work ethic. He actually came back and said, 'You know what, we're not getting anything done.' I think that resonated with so many people. He also, you know -- because you disagree with somebody, you're not their enemy. There were so many things that he stood for, I think, that we -- many of us -- care about," said Fleming.

She said she met McCain only once, when she sang for him and Barack Obama during the 2008 campaign, at the Al Smith dinner. Appropriately, that is traditionally the one time during a presidential campaign that the two sides come together for a roast and some entertainment.

As for the song, "Danny Boy," Fleming has said it reminds her of her own father.

" 'Danny Boy' is like other great folk songs, something universally loved. And whether it's 'Amazing Grace' or 'Ave Maria,' there are certain songs that affect everyone all over the world in a similar kind of way. Music is the international language. It's the language without words, and we speak it naturally. We don't have to be taught to appreciate music when we're infants, toddlers, etc.," she said.

The lyrics, of course, so poignant:

"Oh Danny boy, oh Danny boy, I love you so

But when you come, and all the flowers are dying

If I am dead, as dead I well may be

You'll come and find the place where I am lying

And kneel and say an 'Ave' there for me."

"It's so beautiful," remarked Fleming, "and 'my dreams will warm and sweeter be.' It's an incredibly beautiful lyric. And there's a lot of people who say it's their favorite song and it never fails to make them weep."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 468498

Reported Deaths: 9100
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison31907468
Hinds30552569
DeSoto29532342
Jackson22868335
Rankin21016355
Lee14393214
Madison13961263
Jones13053215
Forrest12879231
Lauderdale11244292
Lowndes10148171
Lamar9972122
Pearl River8569208
Lafayette8008136
Hancock7110107
Oktibbeha6764117
Washington6756146
Neshoba6350200
Monroe6304156
Warren6267159
Panola6036122
Pontotoc599292
Bolivar5960143
Marshall5917115
Union558885
Pike5424133
Lincoln5192127
Alcorn509388
George454766
Scott447392
Leflore4377138
Tippah431780
Itawamba429192
Prentiss429074
Copiah423883
Simpson4238108
Wayne419663
Tate418999
Adams4174109
Yazoo411486
Sunflower4057104
Covington404891
Marion399699
Leake389784
Coahoma385996
Newton360273
Grenada3489100
Stone342657
Tishomingo320987
Attala318285
Jasper308261
Winston298191
Clay282672
Chickasaw277464
Clarke271784
Holmes257685
Calhoun256939
Smith241546
Yalobusha215447
Tallahatchie213849
Walthall203457
Lawrence202431
Greene202045
Perry195053
Amite191251
Webster191141
Noxubee173437
Montgomery168652
Jefferson Davis164041
Carroll158936
Tunica146533
Benton137531
Kemper136538
Claiborne124134
Choctaw123824
Humphreys122036
Franklin114127
Quitman100925
Wilkinson98335
Jefferson85832
Sharkey61620
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 757893

Reported Deaths: 12784
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1082301712
Mobile694251158
Madison47738562
Baldwin35347420
Shelby34758281
Tuscaloosa32576495
Montgomery32249645
Lee21576200
Calhoun19621363
Morgan19061307
Etowah18363413
Marshall17028252
Houston15881337
St. Clair14724270
Limestone13908178
Elmore13812239
Cullman13756228
Lauderdale12909263
Talladega12124200
DeKalb11705220
Walker10047303
Autauga9371119
Blount9272146
Jackson8970132
Coffee8550150
Colbert8229160
Dale8162142
Escambia632298
Tallapoosa6255165
Covington6214153
Chilton6152128
Russell586753
Franklin558292
Chambers5155127
Dallas4569173
Marion4490114
Clarke447070
Pike439188
Geneva415999
Lawrence4002101
Winston399982
Bibb388975
Barbour334667
Marengo317778
Monroe306844
Butler305878
Pickens296166
Henry288550
Randolph288255
Hale282981
Cherokee275649
Fayette268569
Washington241844
Crenshaw226962
Clay219260
Macon211154
Cleburne205746
Lamar184638
Conecuh173337
Lowndes167856
Coosa160031
Wilcox153033
Bullock145642
Perry132430
Sumter122635
Greene117941
Choctaw71925
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Cloudy
76° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 76°
Columbus
Cloudy
74° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 74°
Oxford
Cloudy
72° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 68°
Feels Like: 72°
Starkville
Cloudy
74° wxIcon
Hi: 80° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 74°
Lots of tropical moisture leftover from Nicholas, along with some bits and pieces of low pressure will combine forces to give our area some good chances for some showers and thunderstorms over the next several days.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather