Whitney Houston defined how stars sing the national anthem. Remember the Super Bowl in 1991? The United States was at war, but still playing football.
Thirty years later, fans still were remembering the special Super Bowl pre-game. Pop star Whitney Houston, with her gloriously powerful voice, sang the “Star Spangled Banner” before Super Bowl XXV. Coincidentally, like today’s game, the Super Bowl also was played in Tampa, Fla. In an all New York football, the Giants beat the Buffalo Bills, 20-19.
And Houston, wearing a white track suit, gave the country reason to rally more when she belted out the anthem.
Here she is singing the anthem. Stick with us to the other side to see how fans on Sunday still vividly recalled Whitney Houston singing the Star Spangled Banner 30 years later.
Anthem Performed By Whitney Houston Was Released, Twice
First, some details about the Whitney Houston performance. This Super Bowl was played on Jan. 27, 1991. The date is key. It was 10 days after the United States entered the first Gulf War. A military conflict always prompts a bit more flag waving, this Sunday 30 years ago was no different. Plus, there were far more layers of security around the stadium.
The song was so well received that Houston’s record label released it as a single and donated all profits to help the troops. A decade later, after 9-11, Arista records rereleased Houston’s national anthem. It peaked at No. 6 on Billboard’s Hot 100. And once again, Houston and the record label donated all profits, this time to funds that helped the first responders and victims of the terrorist attacks.
Fans of the late Whitney Houston recalled her anthem Sunday as Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan did a terrific job performing the song. It was the first anthem duet at the Super Bowl since Aretha Franklin and Aaron Neville sang it in 2006.
Fans Still Consider Her Performance Best Ever
Tony Dungy, who led the Indianapolis Colts to a Super Bowl title, tweeted that hearing Houston “still brings tears to my eyes.”
Jemele Hill, a former sportswriter and ESPN anchor, was involved in a social media conversation on which singer gave the best anthem performance. There’s an argument that says Marvin Gaye had the best version. He gave it at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game.
Hill tweeted: “I think we can put Whitney Houston and Marvin Gaye in separate categories. Marvin had the most original interpretation of the national anthem. But nobody sang the traditional version better than Whitney.”
Jaime Harrison, who lost to Lindsey Graham in the South Carolina Senate race, said he’d always remember Houston’s performance. Harrison, who is the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee, tweeted:
“I remember this like it was yesterday. 30 years ago, our ears and our hearts were blessed with Whitney Houston’s angelic rendition of the national anthem. I’ve never heard it sung better and I don’t believe we ever will.”
Even Buffalo Bills Referenced Her Performance
The Buffalo Bills official twitter account also marked the occasion. The Bills don’t have fond memories of the game. But Whitney Houston didn’t disappoint. The Bills called it “the most iconic national anthem performance in Super Bowl history. Take it away, Whitney Houston.”
Then there were every day fans. One wrote: “That one time 30 years ago when Whitney Houston invented the National Anthem.”
Another said: “I still remember Whitney Houston singing the Star Spangled Banner. She still brings tears to my eyes when I hear it. Whitney is one of the best ever vocalists in my book.”
There were more:
“Whitney Houston sang this so well it made me actually love this country.”
Another ranked the performances: “I’ll slightly alter that … 1. Whitney Houston 2. Faith Hill 3. everybody else.”
Others compared Church and Sullivan to Houston:
“I have to say…this is one of the best renditions of the Star-Spangled Banner I’ve ever heard. Not quite at Whitney Houston in 1991 levels, but very, very close. It feels…fresher. Different. Less militaristic and more wistful. Even a little bit longing. I like the change.”
The anniversary of Whitney Houston’s death is this week. She died Feb. 11, 2012.