LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The estate of Leonard Cohen said on Friday it was considering legal action over the use of the Canadian singer’s “Hallelujah” at the Republican National Convention (RNC), calling it a brazen attempt to politicize the song.
A recording of “Hallelujah” by Tori Kelly was played during a fireworks display on Thursday night that followed President Donald Trump’s acceptance speech for the Republican nomination.
A second, more operatic version, was performed on camera by American tenor Christopher Macchio.
Cohen’s estate said in a statement that it was “surprised and dismayed” the song had been used, saying it had specifically denied the RNC’s request to do so.
It said it was exploring legal options and called the RNC’s decision a “rather brazen attempt to politicize and exploit in such an egregious manner ‘Hallelujah’, one of the most important songs in the Cohen song catalogue.”
“Had the RNC requested another song, ‘You Want it Darker’, for which Leonard won a posthumous Grammy in 2017, we might have considered approval of that song,” the statement added.
Cohen died in 2016 at age 82 after a late career revival. “Hallelujah,” first released in 1984, has become his most-performed song.
The use of the song dismayed Cohen fans on social media and followed a pattern of unauthorized pop songs at Trump events and rallies.
The Rolling Stones, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Rihanna, Elton John, Adele, and Queen are among dozens of musicians who have issued cease and desist letters or spoken out against their music being used at Trump rallies.
(Reporting by Jill Serjeant)