“The Star Spangled Banner”, the national anthem of the United States of America, was officially installed as the country’s patriotic melody by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931, which was signed by President Herbert Hoover. Previous to 1931 however, it was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889 and the President in 1916. Although it has obvious patriotic roots, who knew that the country’s national anthem would also be an official lover of sports.
Our national anthem made its first athletic appearance in the game of baseball for the season opener in Philadelphia, 1897. For over a hundred years now, this poetic anthem has spurred on tight ends, outfielders, goalies, and even point guards to take on their opposition and “win one for the gipper.” Some vocalists have inspired the players, while others have tortured the national anthem just to make a name for themselves or make a political statement.
From Roseanne Barr’s hideous attempt at a San Diego Padres game in 1990 to Jimi Hendirx’s controversial 1969 Woodstock rendition, the stars have definitely been bright and the stripes have been broad. It seems to be a right of passage when sung before the start of a pig race at a county fair or by the local barber shop quartet at a high school football game. Contrastingly, it is one of the ultimate honors for a performer to be invited to sing it at super bowls and athletic playoffs nationwide.
What’s the big deal… Is it really that hard to sing this song?
The song is notoriously difficult for nonprofessionals to sing, because of its wide range – an octave and a half. Garrison Keillor has frequently campaigned for the performance of the anthem in the original key, G major, which can be managed by most average singers without difficulty (it is usually played in A-flat or B-flat). Humorist Richard Armour referred to the song’s difficulty in his book It All Started With Columbus:
“In an attempt to take Baltimore, the British attacked Fort McHenry, which protected the harbor. Bombs were soon bursting in air, rockets were glaring, and all in all it was a moment of great historical interest. During the bombardment, a young lawyer named Francis Scott Key wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner”, and when, by the dawn’s early light, the British heard it sung, they fled in terror.”
Professional and amateur singers have been known to forget the words, which is one reason the song is so often pre-recorded and lip-synced. Other times the performer(s) avoid the issue by playing the anthem instrumentally instead of singing it. (full text)
This Saturday local artists will converge on the stadium of the Nashville Sounds in attempts to prove they can out-sing the competition and be the most effective at achieving Star Spangled excellence! The Sounds will hold tryouts for national anthem singers on Saturday, March 13th from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at historic Greer Stadium. (visit their official site for more details)
Before you leave… listen to these anthems and place your vote for the best performance.
Jimi Hendrix: Woodstock, August 1969
Whitney Houston: at Super Bowl XXV, January 1991
Dixie Chicks: Super Bowl XXXVII, January 2003
Beyonce Knowles: Super Bowl XXXVIII, February 2004
Kelly Clarkson: Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Dallas Cowboys, November 2006
Carrie Underwood: NFL, Fall 2006
Jennifer Hudson: Democratic National Convention, August 2008
Martina McBride: AFC Championship, January 2009