Tag Archives: National Anthem

A Different Take on Fergie’s NBA All-Star National Anthem Performance

beauty-trends-blogs-daily-beauty-reporter-2015-01-15-fergie-allure-february-2015-cover“…It’s better to be in the arena, getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot.” ~ Steven Pressfield author from The War of Art.

So it’s safe to say that Fergie took a few kicks to the ribs after her recent NBA All-Star Game national anthem performance, mostly via social media. But at least she’s in the arena…not in the stands where the social media vultures live. In the aforementioned book The War of Art, Pressfield goes on to say:

“A professional schools herself to stand apart from her performance, even as she gives herself to it heart and soul…The professional loves her work. She is invested in it wholeheartedly. But she does not forget that the work is not her. Her artistic self contains many works and many performances. Already the next is percolating inside her. The next one will be better, and the one after that better still…

The professional self-validates. She is tough-minded. In the face of indifference or adulation, she assesses her stuff coldly and objectively. Where it fell short, she’ll improve it. Where it triumphed, she’ll make it better still. She’ll work harder. She’ll be back tomorrow.”

There’s a saying that it’s better for an artist to “step over the line” from time to time than to always play it safe…and live life never knowing where that line is. Artists are by the nature of their work risk takers. It’s one of the 9 lessons of music education that translate into success that I’ve articulated in my book Everything We Needed to Know About Business, We Learned Playing Music – Lesson #6 – Risk Acceptance (Let’s Just “Jam”).

While I found Fergie’s performance unusual, I’m struck by that fact that 99% of the critics tearing her to shreds are people sitting on their couches, staring into their smartphones, and avoiding pursuing whatever endeavor is near and dear to their hearts out of laziness, insecurity, or fear of rejection.

I’m guessing Fergie will be “back in the arena” tomorrow so to speak, honing her craft and working on her next musical or other creative project. You can sit on the sidelines or in the parking lot waiting for the next artist to slip up so that you can throw daggers, or you can get to work and join her.

 

 

 

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Alicia Keys Super Bowl 47 National Anthem – Thoughts & Observations

Jazz singer/songwriter Dave Frishberg once recorded a song entitled “You Would Rather Have the Blues,” a tongue-in-cheek narrative poking fun at people who are always looking for reasons to be unhappy. Though the song was written long before the social media revolution, one might surmise that the tune is aimed directly at the Twitter nation.

Alicia Keys performed the Star Spangled Banner kicking off tonight’s Super Bowl in the New Orleans between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Fancisco 49ers. It’s a role that has come under considerable scrutiny in recent years. Some artists lip-synch the song to a pre-recorded track, some sing live and get criticized for not sounding great, some have forgotten the lyrics. Some are blasted for taking too many liberties with the melody.

The version that Ms. Keys performed this evening was simply spectacular. The combination of her restrained piano accompaniment to her extraordinary vocals, both of which were performed live, was wonderfully simplistic and appropriately poignant. The chordal arrangement was thoughtful and reserved. Many vocalists prefer the safety blanket of a large orchestral backup, yet the honest emotion of piano and voice was consistent with the style of the artist and daunting to pull off in such a setting. And you never had the sense that she believed that she or her performance were bigger or more important than the song itself, a trait becoming rarer and rarer in the day of Megastars and Super Bowl production overkill.

Yet the initial response on the social media outlets focused on the length of the song, a whopping 2 minutes 30 seconds preceding a game that exceeded 4 hours. Amazing. It should be noted that most of the early reviews that focused on the performance itself have been very positive, some concurring with me that it ranked as one of the all time best at this event. If you didn’t care for Alicia’s performance, let me know who has done a better job performing the song LIVE in the history of the Super Bowl – a short list I’m sure.

By the way, Kudos to local New Orleans Piano Showroom, Lafargue Pianos. Technicians from the local Yamaha Piano dealer were summoned to give Ms. Keys’ Grand Piano some prep work, and the look and sound were outstanding.

Here’s a video of tonight’s performance…

http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-super-bowl/0ap2000000136099/Alicia-Keys-wows-singing-national-anthem

 

A Different Take on Christina Aguilera and the Super Bowl XLV National Anthem

By now you’ve probably heard that Christina Aguilera botched the National Anthem lyrics at Super Bowl XLV in Dallas, and she has been berated in the media. I can’t defend her gaffe. She’s a professional performer, and she was performing in front of the largest television audience in history. There are also those who aren’t fond of vocalists who take the interpretation of the song too far from the mainstream. That’s more a matter of taste, but I understand their point with regard to respecting our nation’s anthem.

But here’s another angle to consider.

The one thing that irks me more than anything else when we reach this now iconic annual performance at the Super Bowl is when the performers lip synch a pre-recorded version of the song. And it was clear from the phrasing and tempo that she was going at this live. This is a live event, and the song should be sung live in the spirit of the event. Otherwise, you might as well just play a recording without anyone there.

Thanks to Aguilera for giving it a go.