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Lady Gaga's performance of Francis Scott Key's "The Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl Sunday night was impressive, to say the least. Clad in a red pantsuit, Gaga's flawless vocal prowess couldn't be denied.
But with every year's performance of the national anthem comes the memory of Whitney Houston's iconic delivery of the song at the Super Bowl on Jan. 27, 1991 in Tampa. The singer passed away in 2012.
"She was like a little girl going into a football game — not really understanding the magnitude of this game," Houston's brother Gary told Entertainment Weekly about his sister's legendary performance. "But she was very excited, like, ‘Isn’t this great?’”
Super Bowl XXV, which was a face-off between the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills, promised a bit of joy in a time of great uncertainty as the game arrived just after the beginning of the Gulf War.
That's why, although the incredibly positive reception to Houston's performance had a lot to do with her exquisite voice, it also came down to the uber-patriotic sentiments people were feeling (and yearning to feel) at the time.
In a white track suit and headband, Houston stood and sang, occasionally scratching her head, holding her hands behind her back, waving to fans and smiling.
Of course, there was nothing down-to-earth about her voice. Adding an extra beat to each measure of the traditional song, Houston gave just the right amount of "extras" and flair to the anthem, while the brilliance of her legendary voice did the rest of the work.
“It was a surprise when she performed the song," Gary said. "A lot of people knew she was going to perform — but they didn’t expect her to bring that.”
But Houston, always humble, never seemed to understand the impact her performance would have on so many Americans.
“There were always times when she’d be like, ‘Do you remember going into the Super Bowl?’ and just being excited about it. She’d say, ‘It had that impact? It affected people that way? That was me?’ She never believed things were happening to her at that magnitude. And she was just really excited and elated," Gary said.
"And just kind of shocked that people reacted the way they did.”