Sunday, February 01, 2009

Jennifer Hudson's Star Spangled Banner

Oh my. I watched Jennifer Hudson's performance of The Star Spangled Banner from tonight's Super Bowl three times... and cried each time. I am a big guy and not easily moved. Nor do I cry easily or often. But Ms. Hudson's performance was easily the best I have ever heard or seen of our national anthem. And I think in this particular moment in our nation's history, and with the crew of the recently downed aircraft including Captain Sully Sullenberger there, it was just a whole lot packed into those moments, and it came as an overwhelming surprise.

I cannot wait to get this for my car stereo. I don't know how the sound is on the following, but it was posted just after the performance obviously from a television screen, and at least it gives much of the flavor.

Wow. I always loved the anthem of course, but Jennifer Hudson has now made me a total sucker for it.

[UPDATE 10:33 PM CT] From the AP:
It was a completely different energy than the one offered two hours earlier by Hudson, who made her first public appearance since the October slayings in Chicago of her mother, brother and 7-year-old nephew. Her estranged brother-in-law has been charged in the killings.

Wearing a flowing white top with black leggings and a military-style dark jacket, the 27-year-old singer/actress looked apprehensive and took a deep breath before launching into the anthem.

Hudson, who clocked in at 2 minutes, 13 seconds, looked relieved when she was through.

When she returned to her dressing room, she anxiously asked pre-game show producer Rickey Minor "How did I do?"

"I told her 'Touchdown!'" Minor told The Associated Press after the performance.

"This was such an important performance, because it's the first time everyone has seen Jennifer. But she's in such a great place, with such great spirits and time can heal her wounds. She's on fire right now and totally grounded."

Minor, the music director for American Idol, has produced numerous Super Bowl pre-game performances, including Whitney Houston's 1991 anthem in Tampa that's considered the benchmark for singers. He said Hudson's two cell phones lit up "like slot machines" following her performance, and she received a moving text message from Jamie Foxx, her co-star in "Dreamgirls."

"His text said 'Amazing. It brought tears to my eyes,'" Minor said. "She's just getting so much love."

Although entertainers can perform live, Minor insisted that Hudson and Faith Hill, who sang "America the Beautiful" before the national anthem, use the tracks the NFL requires them to submit a week before the game.

Hudson made her performance personal.

"She's from the church," Minor said. "So we wanted to give it a gospel feel, use a little organ, rhythm and really give it a feel that matched Jennifer. We wanted her to emote the lyrics and connect with the song."

Hudson's now expected to resume her active work schedule. Hudson, who won an Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in "Dreamgirls," is scheduled to perform at next week's Grammy Awards, and her new video for "If This Isn't Love" is set to debut the week of Feb. 9.

Jennifer Hudson is quintessential Americana. And I think she's set the new "benchmark" for anthem singers.