First of all Happy Fourth of July!!
In honor of this great day I am posting one of my most favorite renditions of our National Anthem. It was at the 1991 Super Bowl, just after the start of the Persian Gulf War.
A lot of performances of the National Anthem seem to be more about the singer who is singing it than about the song or the meaning of the song itself.
This was not the case with Whitney Houston’s version. It was very obvious from the outfit she wore and the way she waved to the crowd at the beginning that this was going to be different. Add to that the simple arrangement of the song, with very little “she she fru fru” stuff, and I am hooked. She sang it with her whole being and you could tell she completely gave into the moment. She let her voice be a vehicle of emotion and message, and gave the American public two minutes of pure pride when they really needed it the most. She did it with her voice, and what a voice it was. Whatever you have to say about the way Whitney Houston lived her life, that girl could saa-ng.
None of that changes just because she was singing over a pre-recorded track. Having sung the National Anthem at an Iowa Cubs baseball game when I was in high school (you didn’t know you were hobnobbing with a celebrity) I know all about the impossible acoustics of singing outside let alone with a full orchestra in a stadium like that. Not to mention how important it was that this performance went off without a hitch.
She sang it. She nailed it. She did what I preach to all of my singers, she put the song first.
I can’t listen to this rendition of this song without shedding a tear. I can listen to it 12 times in a row and I always start getting goose bumps at about 2:07 and the tears start to flow at about 3:00. She pulls me in and grabs my heart, like a good selfless singer should do.
I would tell you to close your eyes and just listen, but so much of why I feel the way I feel about this rendition is watching her sing it. Watching the raw emotion on her face and knowing how it feels to believe so strongly in what you are singing really hits it home for me.
Enjoy it on this Fourth of July. We will be heading back to the Simi Valley park in hopes that we won’t be shot at by malfunctioning fireworks and doused with phosphorus like last year. I just love fireworks that much!!
Wish us luck, and I challenge you that however you feel about your voice and your talents in the area of singing always sing it like you mean it…don’t ever put it on auto pilot. It is one of the great joys of life.