(NEXSTAR) – Whitney Houston was an inarguably great singer. Her performance of the national anthem at the 1991 Super Bowl was also inarguably great. It’s often cited as the best-ever rendition of the song, not just for her vocals but for the emotion it carried during the Gulf War.
It was also lip synced, said her producer.
Rickey Minor, who has produced multiple Super Bowl performances (including Houston’s), told TODAY Houston was singing live on the field. But the version heard at home on the TV broadcast was a pre-recording.
“I never shy away from someone questioning anything that was done, or how it was done,” he said in the interview with TODAY. “Could I have said that it was live-live? Yes, but then when do you stop trying to gloss something over? It is what it is. And there’s no doubt that Whitney sang it. So my answer to that, my response to that immediately was, ‘Yes, she sang live. But we used the track for the audio.’”
He went on to say the recording used was mostly from Houston’s first take in the studio, “which is really unusual.”
Houston wasn’t the first and is far from the last to lip sync “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl. Jennifer Hudson’s exceptional rendition 18 years later, also produced by Minor, was lip synced too, he said.
A backup recording has actually been required by the NFL since 1993. Don Weiss wrote in his book “The Making of the Super Bowl” that a near-disaster scared the NFL into making a recorded vocal track a must-have.
According to Weiss, country singer Garth Brooks threatened to not perform the anthem unless NBC played his music video. The two reached an agreement and the performance went over fine, but had he walked out, the NFL and broadcasters wouldn’t have had anything to play in his place.
Backup tracks can also help in the case of technical difficulties or stormy weather that would make it hard to hear the singer.
“There’s too many variables to go live. I would never recommend any artist go live because the slightest glitch would devastate the performance,” Minor told the Associated Press in an interview about the pregame performances he has produced.
Country singer Mickey Guyton is set to perform the national anthem Sunday at the Super Bowl. Will she lip sync? We don’t know the answer to that, but we do know there will be a backup track just in case.