DL Hughley compares Whitney Houston and Marvin Gaye’s versions of the national anthem
Ask anyone which singer has performed the best version of the national anthem, they’ll more than likely answer with the singer hailed as “The Voice”: Whitney Houston. Houston performed his signature rendition ahead of the 1991 Super Bowl. The song was released as a single twice in a decade and made chart history. Despite that, DL Hughley thinks there’s a performance that tops Houston’s.
DL Hughley Says Marvin Gaye’s Version of ‘The National Anthem’ Is Better Than Whitney Houston’s
Hughley recently interviewed Vlad TV and spoke of their experiences witnessing some of the greatest entertainers and athletes of all time. During the conversation, Hughley gave an example of the first time he saw Houston play. He had attended a concert by his favorite artist but was so blown away by Houston that he didn’t even care who he originally went to the show for.
“I’ll never forget I went to see Jeffrey Osbourne at the Greek Theatre, my wife and I went to see him and Whitney Houston opened up for him, when Whitney Houston came out I said, ‘She doesn’t ‘will not open for Encore him,'” Hughley said, noting that Houston was the better performer and he felt his star would rise. “I remember halfway through his performance, I was like, ‘That’s it for him. And I was the biggest fan [of Osbourne]I didn’t know who she was [at the time]but when she had finished, I didn’t even want to see him.
But despite the greatness Hughley thinks Houston is, he doesn’t think his version of the national anthem is the best. When Vlad tells him to name a better version of the performance, Hughley replied, “I will say Marvin Gaye.” He added: “Because it was different. I liked it when nobody else did it. Not lyrically, but in the arrangement.
Whitney Houston’s version was released as a single and broke records
10 days after the start of the Persian Gulf War, Houston took the stage to sing “The Star Spangled Banner” at the opening of Super Bowl XXV on January 27, 1991. Houston’s arrangement was coordinated by her producer and longtime collaborator, Rickey Minor. Minor later revealed that Houston recorded the arrangement in one take.
More than 73,000 spectators were at the game. Houston’s performance was seen by 750 million people worldwide. The song was released as a single the following month due to the overwhelming positive reception. She is credited with inventing the necessary patriotic sentiment at the time and her version was hailed as the best of all time, a feat she still possesses. An accompanying music video of Houston’s performance was also released. Houston donated all proceeds to the American Red Cross Gulf Crisis Fund. The fund provided relief to US military personnel, their families, and victims of war.
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After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Houston label Arista Records reissued Houston’s version of “The Star Spangled Banner” as a way to show nation pride and boost American morale. As she had done in the past, Houston donated her share of the royalties, as well as the label, to firefighters and victims of the attacks.
This time, the single peaked at No. 6 on the US Billboard Hot 100. It was eventually certified platinum by the RIAA. Houston made history as the first artist to bring the National Anthem to the Top 10 charts in the United States, reaching platinum status along the way.
Marvin Gaye’s arrangement was unprecedented
Gaye performed the national anthem during the 1993 NBA All-Star Game. Although this performance turned out to be his most memorable version, it was not his first. He had sung the anthem many times before in its traditional format. In 1979, Gaye sang during the second Larry Holmes-Earnie Shavers fight at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. In 1974, he performed the anthem at the Alameda County Coliseum in Oakland, California before the Raiders played against the Dallas Cowboys. He also did it in 1968 when he was King of Motown Records before Game 4 of the 1968 World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Cardinals.
This time shocked the crowd and the viewers by adding an emotional twist to it. Gaye’s interpretation is considered the most original arrangement ever made. Gaye wowed the crowd of basketball legends, VIPs and fans with his smooth rendition of the song. Even NBA legend Magic Johnson was impressed with Gaye.
“We were taking two steps listening to the national anthem,” Magic Johnson said, reported by etScape. “We were just bouncing left and right. It blew us away. We were just caught up in this man’s moment. People just forgot it was the national anthem.
Ironically, the moment almost never happened as Gaye was not the league’s first choice. Lionel Richie was the coveted performer due to his recent success from his debut album. But Richie was ultimately not cast because the league office didn’t know much about music.
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