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Leonard Cohen rep says estate specifically declined use of 'Hallelujah' at RNC

A mural of Leonard Cohen looks down on people attending a Canada Post event where three new stamps where unveiled in Cohen's honour in Montreal, Friday, September 20, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

TORONTO — Representatives for Leonard Cohen’s estate say they’re considering legal action after the singer’s iconic song “Hallelujah” appeared during this week’s Republican National Convention.

Michelle Rice, a lawyer for Cohen’s estate, says the Republican party made a “brazen attempt to politicize and exploit” the Montreal singer-songwriter’s work, despite being explicitly told they didn’t have permission.

Covers of “Hallelujah” appeared twice during the televised event on Thursday night, sparking anger from Cohen’s fans on social media.

A recording of the track, performed by singer Tori Kelly, played over the fireworks display after Trump’s acceptance speech for the Republican nomination. American tenor Christopher Macchio sang an operatic version live from the White House shortly afterward.

It’s not the first time U.S. President Donald Trump has run into legal issues over unauthorized use of popular music during his political events.

Neil Young recently sued Trump’s campaign in a U.S. court after numerous requests to stop playing his songs at rallies were ignored.

Rice said Cohen’s estate was “surprised and dismayed” by the recent turn of events, but suggested they may have granted the RNC permission to use another of the singer’s songs — his Grammy-winning “You Want it Darker.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 29, 2020.

The Canadian Press