The 'Tonight Show with Jay Leno' music director says, 'The thing that people don't understand about television, especially singing the national anthem in a big stadium, there's no way to rehearse.'
It's been more than 20 years since Whitney Houston's national anthem performance at Super Bowl, but controversy surrounding her "Star Spangled Banner" rendition won't go away. In the wake of her sudden death on Saturday, February 11, the topic is brought up again.
Coming to the late singer's defense regarding report that she mimed the national anthem is "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" music director Rickey Minor. He's the one who worked closely with the "I Will Always Love" hitmaker over the years on many of her performances including the Super Bowl gig.
"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," he explained the situation. "It's rowdy, it's loud, the fly over [from] the jets."
When the controversy arose years ago, he and Whitney worked together to silence it. "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'," he recalled. "It shut [the rumors] down, it just shut down all the talk."
Regardless, Rickey praised the New Jersey singer over her national anthem rendition. "Every time, never fails, chills, the hair raises up on my arm," he gushed in an interview with Access Hollywood. "It's hard to top that emotion and performance... It really is about a personal best."