I waited to post this. I didn’t want it to get lost in the clamor over another talented person who crashed on the rocks of their own poor judgement and lack of self-control. But after catching this snippet on one of the many tributes played after her death, I felt this performance deserved recognition for the standard it sets for singing The Star Spangled Banner, a song so many performers butcher.
The one thing you cannot deny, through all her later self-inflicted troubles, is the talent Whitney Houston had before it went all wrong. My wife, Carol, immensely enjoyed Houston’s singing.
She could sing incredibly, no doubt. But her greatest moment might have been that night she sang The National Anthem before Superbowl XXV in January 1991.
The national mood over the events in the Persian Gulf set the stage for a dramatic rendition that was so popular a recording of the event was sold as a single, whose proceeds were donated to the American Red Cross Gulf Crisis Fund. The air campaign portion of Operation Desert Storm, which drove Saddam Hussein’s military forces out of an invaded Kuwait, was 10 days old.
The country – especially those with loved ones already fighting in the air or preparing for the ground assault that would commence on February 23 – was anxious over a military operation where the possibility of attacks on U.S. soldiers by Iraqi forces rumored to have gas stockpiles and possibly even nuclear weapons were feared. And these fears were compounded by the threat of domestic terrorist attacks, potentially at the very Superbowl at which Houston was to perform.
What resulted solidified Houston’s position as an entertainer, a national talent, and an international presence.
Whatever you might think of Whitney Houston’s wasted talent, her fall from grace, even her role in her own demise, it’s impossible not to be moved by Houston’s performance on that night in Tampa, Florida.
(Unfortunately, I’m unwilling – for a first time video post – to pay for the “video upgrade” at WordPress, so my apologies for making you go find it. Simply click the above.)
This video should be shown to every performer preparing to sing The Star Spangled Banner for the first time. Maybe then we wouldn’t have to sit through so many tortured renditions by overly vain “artists”.