IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Whitney Houston's brother reflects on her 1991 Super Bowl performance

With every year's performance of the national anthem at the Super Bowl comes the memory of Whitney Houston's iconic delivery of the song in Tampa.
/ Source: TODAY

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.

Singer Whitney Houston sings the National Anthem before a 20-19 New Giants wino ver the Buffalo Bills at Super Bowl XXV on January 27, 1991 at Houlihan's Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida. (Al Messerschmidt via AP)AP

RELATED: Super Bowl 50: Lady Gaga's National Anthem brings glittery start to game

"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.

RELATED: So who was the hot ref calling Super Bowl 50? Social media drools over Clete Blakeman

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.

Born into a musical family, the singer's stunning voice wowed many, but drug use, erratic behavior and a tumultuous marriage ravaged her image.

“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.”

RELATED: Clive Davis to release Whitney Houston's first live album: 'This is her legacy'

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.”