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The Super Bowl May Have Been a Doozy, but the Best Moment of All Came Just Before Kickoff
When Houston, 27, was first invited to perform the anthem, the game was a year away and most Americans didn't know a Scud from a smart bomb or Peter Arnett from an A-10 Warthog. In mid-January of this year, she recorded the vocal track in L.A. and the Florida Orchestra recorded the music in Tampa (prerecording is a common Super Bowl practice in case of technical glitches on game day). Then on Jan. 27—10 days into the gulf air war—she took the field before 73,813 fans and a TV audience of 115 million. Afterward "I went back up in the sky booth and watched the game." says Houston. "It wasn't until a day or two later that I realized the whole country was in an uproar."
Stirred by her rousing, gospel-inspired performance, Houston's version of "The Star-Spangled Banner" quickly became the fastest-selling single ever on Arista Records. Within weeks, sales of video tapes, CDs and audio cassettes of her performance raised more than $500,000 for the American Red Cross Gulf Crisis Fund.
"I think it was a time when Americans needed to believe in our country." Houston says now. "I remember standing there and looking at all those people, and it was like I could see in their faces the hopes and prayers and fears of the entire country."
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