Immediately following Jennifer Hudson’s moving performance of “America The Beautiful” with students from Sandy Hook Elementary School, Grammy Award winner Alicia Keys offered her own somber rendition of the National Anthem at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans.
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Dressed in an elegant, crimson sleeveless gown, Keys played a white piano while singing a slow-paced version of the song. Keys paced herself with pauses between lyrics that extended the song to 156 seconds, surpassing Natalie Cole’s Super Bowl record of 152 seconds.
Playing the piano herself provided a nice, acoustic touch to “The Star Spangled Banner.” Recent National Anthem performers, Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, and Carrie Underwood, performed with an accompaniment. Billy Joel, who delivered the National Anthem in 2007, was the last artist to play the piano during his set.
Keys’ subdued delivery was a good choice. It was touching and gave her an opportunity to prove that she was singing live, ruling out the kind of lip synching controversy Beyoncé experienced when performing at President Barack Obama’s inauguration last month.
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Last month, Keys revealed her plans to change the arrangement for the National Anthem. “I have to rehearse it totally, as if it’s a brand-new song because it is actually a brand new song in the style that I’ll deliver it,” Keys told MSN.com at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.
Though Keys sang “America The Beautiful” at the Super Bowl in 2005 and was a part of the pre-game show in 2008, she has expressed her excitement about having another opportunity to play at the event.
On Saturday, she conveyed her anticipation via Twitter. “2morrow’s the big day!,” she wrote. “The energy is so amazing! u can feel it all over! I feel excited in a way I’m not sure I ever have! :-) can’t wait!!”
Early Sunday, she said her eagerness interrupted her resting. “Woke up dreaming about how this place will b filled later!” she said in a post on her Twitter page. “I’m so excited! Better go back 2 sleep 4 a little bit!”
Four hours later, she mentioned finishing a “beautiful, calming yoga” session, and then posted a photo with Jennifer Hudson on the Super Bowl field. “It’s gonna be a great day,” she wrote.
Last year, Kelly Clarkson performed the National Anthem at the Super Bowl.