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T-Pain Shares How the Black National Anthem Made Him Fall in Love with Music

T-Pain resurfaced earlier this year after taking a public hiatus from music. With his return came an even more animated version of himself and revealing stories.

The Florida native previously spoke about his decision to pull away from music — hint: it has to do with Usher disapproving of his use of autotune — but now, he’s shedding light on how his love of music all began with the Black national anthem.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – JANUARY 14: T-Pain attends the World Premiere of “Bad Boys for Life” at TCL Chinese Theatre on January 14, 2020 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jemal Countess/FilmMagic)

“It made me fall in love because that was the first song I learned how to play on keyboard,” shared the “Buy You a Drink” singer during a game of ELLE’s Song Association.

The anthem, which is actually called “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” was originally written as a hymn that eventually became the musical backdrop to the fight for civil rights. But as deep as the song’s history is in Black culture, none of it is why T-Pain latched onto the song.

Instead, T-Pain explained he learned to play the song “to impress my dad.” “He bought me a little tiny keyboard and that was the first thing I learned how to play. Like you know, and I was just like ‘Dad, dad check this out!’ ” he recalled. 

Not one to toot his own horn too much, he quickly added in that the keyboard only had two octaves and that he was not playing the song in its entirety. Still, the approval shown by his father was enough to fuel him to continue playing the instrument that would later play an instrumental part in his career. 

“My dad seemed so impressed with how I quickly learned that song I wanted to learn every song that he liked and I just kept going, and I kept going and learned more about music,” he said. “Ever since then I’ve just been playing keys more and more trying to impress my dad and it’s worked out, and turned into a music career.”

Although T-Pain failed miserably at the game — which requires an artist to sing or rap a song associated with a word— he won in the eyes of fans who enjoyed his storyline and jubilant personality.

“He didn’t get them all, but he’s entertaining to watch!”

“He has a personality that is loved!” 


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