National Anthem in Super Bowl with Whitney Houston was a historic moment for African-Americans.
Ten years after her death, ESPN is dedicating a documentary to the diva’s performance that captivated an entire stadium and nation in 1991.
As the Super Bowl final is scheduled to be held on February 14, 2022, the American press has not stopped remembering Whitney Houston’s performance.
The decor National Anthem in Super Bowl with Whitney Houston
On January 27, 1991, while a few days earlier the “Desert Storm” operation was launched to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein’s territorial ambitions, the singer stood in the middle of the Tampa stadium in Florida.
Dressed in a white Le Coq Sportif tracksuit, Nike Cortez on her feet and a large headband in her hair, Whitney Houston 27 years old begins “The Star Spangled Banner”, the national anthem of the United States, supported by the Florida Orchestra in front of 73 813 fans and 115 million viewers.
If she had planned a long white dress for her performance, the cooler temperatures of this winter of 1991 will invite her to dress in this sporty outfit with patriotic allure.
A nation under tension
As the Gulf War began with a coalition of twenty-eight nations, led by the United States, the voice of Houston ripped through a packed stadium. Minutes earlier security had been ordered to search every participant, making sure that no camera was actually a hidden bomb. No particular threat had been made, but the wartime context had contributed to a tense atmosphere. There were even rumors of a possible cancellation of the Super Bowl, which that year featured the New York Giants vs. the Buffalo Bills.
“If you were there, you could feel the intensity,” Houston recalled in a 2000 interview (Instagram post below). “We were in the Gulf War at the time. It was an intense time for our country. A lot of our daughters and sons fought overseas. I could see in the stadium, I could see the fear, the hope, the intensity, the prayers going up,” confides the one who passed away in 2012. Those who were present at the field tell us that half of the players were in tears during Whitney Houston’s performance.
An anthem for freedom and African-Americans
“I had read an article in the New Yorker about this performance. It changed the ‘Star Spangled Banner’ forever, turning a warlike, martial anthem into a song for freedom that black Americans, who never wanted to be associated with it, could finally identify with. This has profoundly marked the society at the time “, tells in the columns of Première the director Kevin MacDonald, author of the documentary Whitney released in 2018. And regardless of the slight controversy about the fact that she did playback (real), it is her very own way of pronouncing the word “free” in the song that will rock the stadium.
While this version of the national anthem remains one of the most iconic in U.S. history, Whitney Houston was actually inspired by the Marvin Gaye version sung at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game. The only reinterpretation she likes, she told her longtime bandleader and arranger Rickey Minor.
“Houston’s version wasn’t just a revolution in music; it was a revolution in meaning. “Black Americans have long felt ambivalent about ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,'” the New Yorker reporter wrote in the famous article cited above by Kevin MacDonald. “When there has been a need for a patriotic song, black leaders have more often turned to ‘My Country, ‘Tis of Thee’ or ‘America the Beautiful,'” the reporter explains. Titles that don’t evoke particular violence. “The machinery of state violence has been used against black people too often for a song about bombs and rockets to have much appeal. But Houston ushered in a shift.” A shift that is the subject of a half-hour documentary on ESPN this February 11, ten years after the singer’s death.
This was what anchor magazine shared when they announced this documentary about National Anthem in Super Bowl with Whitney Houston.