This video of "The Star Spangled Banner" from the 1991 Super Bowl has been making the rounds today. It's historic for a number of reasons.
First, of course, the tragic and premature death yesterday of the soloist, Whitney Houston. There have been enough questionable renditions of this song in recent years to appreciate how incredibly well she sang it in 1991.
But it was also the first Super Bowl Performance ever by a symphony orchestra. And wouldn't you know that the orchestra behind her is none other than The Florida Orchestra! (my employer for the past 24 years, if you're new to this blog). I was there, at the old Tampa Stadium, standing in the back of the violin section. It was an incredibly exciting event.
When I retrieved this video on You Tube, there were some comments discussing whether or not it was a live performance. Let me set the record straight, since I was there: you heard on the 1991 TV performance, as you hear on the video, Whitney Houston and The Florida Orchestra. But you can be absolutely certain: the reason that it's such a great performance (as opposed to some of the more recent train wrecks) is that it was recorded earlier. TRUST ME: a performance of this caliber would not have been even remotely possible live. The video and cd of this performance "went platinum" ,as they say, and was the #1 song on Billboard for many months afterward.
Whitney's gone. I'm still here. Thanks for a great performance Whitney! RIP.