In a Kate Smith tribute concert at Ravinia Monday night, opera-world powerhouse Stephanie Blythe explained that she was doing (though not imitating) the mid-20th century broadcast and recording queen because she wants to keep Smith’s repertoire of great songs alive.

She delivered more than a dozen of those songs, concluding, as the appreciative audience knew she would, with Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America.” As Blythe clearly understands, Smith’s rendition of that song—for better or worse—is a national icon.

Which leads me to a little digression.