The Pirates are playing the Cubs at Wrigley Field this afternoon, and I just heard the national anthem sung before the start of the game.
Why is it that we often choose popular singers to sing our anthem at sporting events? More to the point, why do we choose people (1) who don’t seem to know or understand the words of “The Star Spangled Banner” and (2) who insist on augmenting the tune with ornamentation designed to show off, rather than to honor the nation? Why, in fact, do singers largely embarrass themselves when singing the national anthem, rather than taking the opportunity to enhance their reputations by displaying their competence, rather than their “originality”?
I raise these questions because the anthem was sung in Chicago today not by a soloist, but by a women’s chorus—not a girls’ chorus—of about 20 singers. (Unfortunately, the chorus was shown on television only briefly, so I neither caught the name of the group nor had time to count the singers.) The group used a straightforward choral arrangement whose only surprise was the last chord. The performance was, however, the most exciting rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” I have heard in a long time.
If you are responsible for selecting singers of the national anthem for a sporting event, please take note.