Soprano Renée Fleming to Sing National Anthem in the Super Bowl
Super Bowl Sunday will be an evening of excitement and noise. But this year it will also be a night when beauty and dignity are displayed on the gridiron. World renowned opera singer Renée Fleming will take the field to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Live.
Unlike some past Super Bowl singers of the national anthem, Fleming insisted she sing the anthem live at MetLife Stadium this Sunday evening. “I wouldn’t know how to lip-sync if you paid me,” said Fleming. “I only know how to sing live.”
Not to mention without amplifiers. Of opera, Fleming said, “We are the final, major art form that is 100 percent acoustic and unplugged.” Singing to an arrangement from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Fleming will be backed up by 32 military singers from all the branches.
Recipient of the National Medal of Arts, the highest honor the government gives to artists, in 2012, Fleming was stunned by the NFL’s request, usually issued to popular, rather than classical, music artists. Fleming will be the first opera singer to sing the anthem at the Super Bowl. What an inspiration to vocal students everywhere.
And music education is close to Fleming’s heart. “As a creative consultant for the Lyric Opera of Chicago,” notes education writer C. M. Rubin, Fleming’s “projects with schools include inspiring and mentoring students and conducting voice lessons.”
“Arts education needs to be part of the core curriculum in schools, for so many reasons, not the least of which are academic achievement and student outcomes,” said Fleming.
“Arts education needs to be part of the core curriculum in schools, for so many reasons, not the least of which are academic achievement and student outcomes,” said Fleming. “Study after study has shown that arts education develops students’ creativity and problem-solving skills, attributes that are crucial for success in almost any field.” Furthermore, “Having some kind of artistic expression allows them to form a sense of self—to find their voice, so to speak.”
Regarding her own experience as a young student, Fleming told Rubin, “I was a naturally shy girl who was happy to be off somewhere with a book—it was through the expressive outlet of composing and singing songs with a guitar that I first began to develop a sense of who I was as a person.” While we continue to struggle in music education advocacy, Fleming believes “we may have turned a corner, and that people are beginning to understand the importance of the arts in our children’s lives.”
Make sure every student you know is in the room Sunday night to hear quite arguably the best rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” the Super Bowl audience has ever heard.
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Catherina Hurlburt, Special Assistant, January 31, 2014. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)