Renée Fleming Says She Won't Lip-Sync National Anthem

Friday, January 31, 2014 - 08:00 AM

NEW YORK (AP) -- Renée Fleming says she only knows how to sing the national anthem one way: live.

The 53-year-old opera singer will perform "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Sunday's Super Bowl. She said in an interview Thursday she won't sing to a pre-recorded track and that she "wouldn't know how to lip-sync if you paid me."

"It would be a disaster. I only know how to sing live," said the singer, known as "The People's Diva."

Some artists choose to lip-sync, especially in cold weather. Whitney Houston's unforgettable performance of the national anthem in 1991 at the Super Bowl was sung to a track, and Beyonce did the same at President Barack Obama's Inauguration last year.

But Fleming promises it will be entirely real when she walks onto the field at MetLife Stadium, where the Seattle Seahawks will play the Denver Broncos. She'll be singing along to an arrangement from the New Jersey Symphony and have 32 military singers from all the service branches as backup.

Fleming, who has performed around the world and serenaded Queen Elizabeth and President Barack Obama, will be the first opera singer to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl.

"The thing I love to remind people about what I do is we're not even amplified," the soprano told The Associated Press after a news conference in New York City. "We are the final, major art form that is 100 percent acoustic and unplugged."

Fleming says when the NFL first asked her to sing the national anthem, she didn't think it was real.

"Really, I just rejected it out of hand," she said. "I just thought, `Oh that's ridiculous, you know, it must be a joke.' Nobody's going to ask me to sing for the Super Bowl, even the national anthem, because it's just never been done, that anybody who was in classical music or any other genre, frankly, other than really mainstream, successful, top-selling, commercial, mainstream artists. So I was stunned when it was real!"

Fleming is performing at the Met Opera in "Rusalka" through February. She received the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor the government gives to artists, in 2012.


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Comments [9]

Unfortunately, I was a little bit disappointed. Sound was great. Tempo, not so much. Free - eee high note? Really?

At least the lyrics were clear.


Feb. 02 2014 06:28 PM
Ileana adamos from NYC

BRAVO !! BRAVO !! THE BEST Ever singing national

Feb. 02 2014 06:26 PM

@KB Lane: Sorry. You lost me at "I am a Wagnerian romantischer ..." Lose the self-aggrandizement.

{{shameless plug}}

Feb. 02 2014 01:43 AM
Kenneth Bennett Lane, Lake Hiawatha, NJ from R

BRAVA RENEE FLEMING for opting to do the Star Spangled Banner outdoors in cold windy weather. i myself have performed under similar conditions and although it is possible to sing well it is hardly ever representative of the singer's best. Ms. Fleming may well be the first time Super Bowl enthusiasts have ever heard a real opera voice.. Baseball fans, however, may remember ROBERT MERRILL whose voice thrilled listeners as he sang the national anthem and, of course, at the MET OPERA. I am performing and recording onto DVDs "The 300 Greatest Love Songs of Broadway Musicals, the Movies and the Grammys." Their release is upcoming soon. I am a Wagnerian romantischer heldentenor. I will sing the four song cycles that are most often performed in their orchestral garb:the complete Wagner's "Wesendonck Lieder," the complete Mahler's "Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen," the tenor's music in Mahler's "Das Lied von der Erde" and Waldemar's music in Schoenberg's "Gurre-Lieder" at the New Life Expo at the Hotel Pennsylvania in NYC on Saturday March 22nd at 6 PM. I have sung four three-hour-long solo concerts in the Isaac Stern Auditorium of Carnegie Hall including programming the Wagner and the first named Mahler song cycle. One may hear my singing LIVE from the main hall, the Isaac Stern Auditorium of CARNEGIE HALL, four solo concerts by downloading, FREE, 37 out of the nearly 100 selections that I have sung there by going to RECORDED SELECTIONS on my websites, and

Feb. 01 2014 07:04 PM
Barry Owen Furrer

@ Pascarpone~
Ms. Fleming is the recipient of four Grammy Awards with "The Beautiful Voice" in 1999; "Bel Canto" in 2003; "Verismo" in 2009; and most recently, "Poemes" in 2013. I believe any one of these would be an excellent place to begin your quest.

Feb. 01 2014 02:17 PM

It will be interesting to hear. Unfortunately, our national anthem is essentially militaristic and, if memory serves me, has a rather brisk tempo marking.

We'll see what happens on Sunday.

(former cymbal player for The Star-Spangled Banner)

Feb. 01 2014 01:15 AM
Pascarpone from New Yawk

I enjoyed very much the two prior posts. I don't suppose that either of the posters could recommend a piece of music that I could purchase, with Ms. Fleming singing? It's the least you can do after selling me on her. TIA.

Jan. 31 2014 08:56 PM
Gary in Dallas from Highland Park, TX

If anyone could play it straight, correct, etc. as the composer intended it would be Renee Fleming. I am so sick of some pseudo-singer(pick one, their numbers are Legion)that swoop, scoop, "embellish" to make their own personal "statement" and what turns out to be a disastrous train-wreck (ala Christina Aguilera in Dallas)that shows these performers have no regard for this country, the anthem or even showing up cold sober. Brava to Ms. Fleming for being the artist that can do our country proud and the anthem justice. Life has taken me to many countries and you never hear the national anthems of those countries messed around with as we do in the good ole USA. Again, brava!

Jan. 31 2014 04:17 PM
Virginia Campbell from New York

Fleming is one of the 21st century's most incredible talent in the performing arts. She makes an unequivocally accurate point about classical music being an authentic genre of music in which musicians are "real" at all times regardless of what predecessors' customs were.

Fleming's acceptance to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl is a great way to expose the beauty and richness of classical music to a wider audience and hopefully entice more of the younger generation into the fold.

Jan. 31 2014 01:04 PM

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