Whitney Houston's Musical Director Rickey Minor Looks Back On Singer's 'Star Spangled Banner' Performance

Posted: February 14, 2012 at 11:08 pm


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Whitney Houston's career was filled with standout performances, but for Rickey Minor - who worked with the late singer as her musical director over the span of her career - the singer's performance of "The Star Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl XXV in 1991 rises to the top.

"Every time, never fails, chills, the hair raises up on my arm," Rickey told Billy Bush and Kit Hoover when asked about the iconic performance on Tuesday's Access Hollywood Live. "I cannot hear it for three years, and if I hear it somewhere, it's immediate."

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Rickey, who did all the musical arrangement for the song, said Whitney nailed her rendition with very little preparation.

"That was one take," he said, watching a clip of her performance. "It's hard to top that emotion and performance... It really is about a personal best."

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Rickey - who is now the musical director and band leader of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" - told Billy and Kit that her iconic performance also stirred up some negative press initially.

"There was controversy about Whitney doing the national anthem and lip synching. Was she lip synching? [There was] a lot of backlash right away," he recalled.

According to the Associated Press, the performance seen by people at home was a combination of a Whitney's pre-recorded rendition of the song - which she did days earlier in a studio - mixed with her live vocals. Fans attending the game heard the taped version of the song.

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Whitney's longtime collaborator was quick to come up with a plan to squash the talk how much of the song was actually performed live and just how well she could perform the challenging song.

"We made the decision, I told her, 'What we need to do, I said, we have this show on HBO, 'Welcome Home Heroes,' Just do it again, first verse a capella... it shut [the rumors] down, it just shut down all the talk," he explained. "The thing that people don't understand about television, especially singing the national anthem in a big stadium, there's no way to rehearse, the sound of the crowd coming at you... it's rowdy, it's loud, the fly over [from] the jets."

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Whitney Houston's Musical Director Rickey Minor Looks Back On Singer's 'Star Spangled Banner' Performance

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February 14th, 2012 at 11:08 pm