So, like a lot of folks, we spent a little time exploring videos featuring Whitney Houston this weekend in the wake of her death on Saturday afternoon. We did so with the kids -- they didn't have any questions about why she died, and they are, it is safe to say, not up on her reality-TV career with ex-husband Bobby Brown. We just wanted to have them hear her voice, which was pretty danged special.
Although I always preferred her peppy early dance hits to the ballads that Clive Davis (and the American music-buying public) apparently preferred, I was struck by her rendition of the U.S. National Anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl. This was, of course, shortly after the U.S. invaded Iraq, so the odd confluence of sports patriotism and national patriotism that is normally on display at the Super Bowl was cranked way up, and Houston could have approached the song Very Seriously.
But just watch the video. She was a performer, of course, and was practiced at the art of the outward appearance, but I swear the sheer joy of this performance is what made (and makes) it so popular. A couple times during the performance, she just looks off to the side and gives a small grin, like she's saying, "I got this." Were many more musical performances (especially of the national anthem) that joyful. Rest in peace, Whitney.
Whitney Houston - "The Star Spangled Banner" (Live at the 1991 Super Bowl) [YouTube]