Whitney Houston 1991 Super Bowl Performance: Music Director Defends Lip-Syncing
Whitney Houston sang the national anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl between the New York Giants and the Buffalo Bills. Some have called it one of the best performances of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ ever. Still, lip-syncing controversy followed her rousing rendition when it happened and has been resurrected in the wake of her death on Feb. 11, 2012 at the tender age of 48.
The performance that aired on TV for home viewers is said to be a combination of Houston’s pre-recorded rendition of the song, which she did days earlier in a studio, mixed with her live vocals. Supposedly, the fans attending the game heard the taped version of the song. Weird, right?
In an interview with Access Hollywood, Rickey Minor, the music director of ‘The Tonight Show’ who worked closely with Houston through the years and on multiple performances, has come to Houston’s defense over her soaring performance of the national anthem.
Minor helped Houston with the arrangement of the song and addressed it from a vocalist’s perspective, which makes it seem more understandable why so many artists flub the song when performing it. He said, “The thing that people don’t understand about television, especially singing the national anthem in a big stadium, there’s no way to rehearse, the sound of the crowd coming at you. It’s rowdy, it’s loud, the fly over [from] the jets.”
Minor also said that the performance is so ingrained in his memory that it still affects him, every time he hears it, reminding people it was done in one take. “Every time, never fails, chills, the hair raises up on my arm,” he said. “It’s hard to top that emotion and performance… It really is about a personal best.”
Minor and Houston dealt with the rumors that she lip synced at the time. He recalled, “We made the decision, I told her, ‘What we need to do, I said, we have this show on HBO, ‘Welcome Home Heroes’, just do it again, first verse a capella.’ It shut [the rumors] down, it just shut down all the talk.”
Watch Whitney Houston Perform the National Anthem at 1991 Super Bowl