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Singing The National Anthem
February 22, 2011 - Al Stephenson
By now most of you have had a chance to digest (or at least try to) Christina Aguilera's rendition of our National Anthem at the Super Bowl. She botched it, plain and simple. I'm sure she feels bad and can take some solace in the fact that she wasn't quite as bad as Roseann! Aguilera is not the only singer to make people uneasy listening to a song that should send shivers down our spines.
I received an email today that I want to share verbatim. I do not know who the author of this message is and that's too bad, because I would like to give them credit for putting into words what a lot of people are thinking. Here's what the person had to say.
"So, with all the kindness I can muster, I give this one piece of advice to the next pop star who is asked to sing the national anthem at a sporting event: Save the vocal gymnastics and the physical gyrations for your concerts. Just sing this song the way you were taught to sing it in kindergarten - straight up, no styling. Sing it with the constant awareness that there are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines watching you from bases and outposts all over the world. Don't make them cringe with your self-centered ego gratification. Sing it as if you are standing before a row of 86-year-old WWII vets wearing their Purple Hearts, Silver Stars and flag pins on their cardigans and you want them to be proud of you for honoring them and the country they love - not because you want them to think you are a superstar musician. They could see that from the costumes, the makeup and the entourages. Sing "The Star Spangled Banner" with the courtesy and humility that tells the audience that it is about America, not you."
The view from my seat suggests that this is a proper message to send to all those singers who feel obligated to put their own stamp on a relatively "sacred song."
Let me just add one thing to the message. Amen!
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