If you didn’t get a chance to watch Lady Gaga sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” on Sunday night, do yourself a favor and check it out. Gaga performed with a single piano playing sporadic chords to support the singer.
Gaga added vibrato and tall vowels to her performance, showing off the vocal practice she’s taken from the New York All-State Jazz choir to the top of the Billboard charts to an album of jazz duets with Tony Bennett. Making full use of the large range of her chest voice, she crept higher and higher to the emotional high point of the lyrics; “that our flag was still there.”
Following her powerhouse rise, she added melodic embellishments, jumping up here and there on her way to another high note on “o’er the land of the free” with the now-standard upper melisma. It’s after this moment just how clear the piano player is following Gaga’s lead the entire time as she holds onto the moment longer than you might expect. When she begins again, he is there with her. By adding an extra “the brave” at the end, she puts a long, high exclamation point on her performance.
Share it with your students. Share your opinion. Invite them to share theirs. I thought it was a very good rendition with powerful vocals sung by a person who understood that the lyrics are more than just memorized words. More people watched that performance than any other musical performance of the year. It’s definitely worth discussing.