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Monday, May 28, 2012

Whitney Houston Performs "Star Spangled Banner", 1991 Super Bowl (That Voice)

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Whitney's Super Bowl national anthem was a classic

Among the annals of national anthems as a prelude to sporting events, few have topped the one delivered by Whitney Houston, who died Saturday, before Super Bowl XXV in 1991 in Tampa. Just a woman, her incredible voice and the bare minimum of extraneous notes.

Her rendition came at a particularly patriotic time, just after the onset of the Persian Gulf War, and was released as a single. It was re-released after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Houston donated all proceeds to charity. There was some controversy over whether she had pre-recorded the song, but it still ranks among the best all-time because of the circumstances and ... that voice..

Whitney Houston’s Star-Spangled Secret

It was what turned a star into a superstar: Whitney Houston’s mesmerizing rendition of the national anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl. Houston’s powerful “Star Spangled Banner” performance came at a poignant, patriotic time — the U.S. had just entered the 1991 Gulf War.

But here’s what you didn’t know: What the Super Bowl audience and hundreds of millions of TV viewers heard was lip-synched.

“The music was pre-recorded, and so was the vocal,” confirmed Rickey Minor, who was Houston’s musical director at the time.

Minor, now the band leader on Jay Leno’s “Tonight Show,” said that in a crowd that large and loud, it was impossible for Houston to hear herself. Though she did sing, it was her pre-recorded voice that the audience heard.

Here’s another surprise: Minor and Houston changed the national anthem to ensure a better performance.

“The original version is in 3/4 time, which is more like a waltz,” Minor explained. “What we tried to do was to put it in 4/4 meter… We wanted to give her a chance to phrase it in such a way that she would be able to take her time and really express the meaning.”

Minor was nervous that the altered anthem wouldn’t be well received, but that story, at least, has a happy ending: Houston’s performance electrified the stadium and soon after, popular demand prompted Houston’s record label to release a single that hit the top 20 on the Billboard charts.

“I think it might well be the best Super Bowl performance of all time, ” said Billboard Magazine editor Danyel Smith. “It may well be, with the exception of her version of Dolly Parton’s, ‘I Will Always Love You,’ the most remembered thing about her.

I think our grandkids will look at the video for ‘I Will Always Love You’ and they will look at the video of Whitney Houston singing at Super Bowl twenty-five.”

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Sources: AP, ABC News, Washington Post, Youtube, Google Maps

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