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Beyond Beyonce: Sing national anthem 'straight'

Date published: 1/29/2013

Beyond Beyonce: Sing national anthem 'straight'

I could not care less whether Beyonce's performance of our national anthem was live or recorded. The event was the inauguration of our president, not a performance by Beyonce. What does disturb me are the liberties individuals take with our anthem as they perform it.

Tune in to the beginning of almost any sports event where "The Star-Spangled Banner" is performed and you will hear some interpretations that make the song nearly unrecognizable. Whitney Houston and Beyonce changed the meter of the song from 3/4 time to 4/4 time, and countless performers have added flourishes throughout the melody and changed the underlying harmonies.

As a musician and choral conductor, I am all for the right of performers to interpret music in their own style. However, I feel that when "The Star-Spangled Banner" is presented as our national anthem, it should be sung in the traditional manner--as, for example, when it is played at the Olympics.

There have been all kinds of artist's interpretations of our flag, but when it is flown at events, it is the official U.S. flag, not someone's stylized version. Likewise, the performance of our national anthem at an official event that will be watched by millions all over the world should be the official version of the song, live or recorded.

Linda Monner