Beyonce's Chills...

[Attleboro Sun Chronicle]

FARINELLA: Stars come out to shine for game

Over the years, the football game has practically become an afterthought during the entertainment extravaganza that the Super Bowl has become. Parties, pre-game shows, halftime shows, salutes to this, that and everything else -- it's almost a wonder that they manage to squeeze three hours of football into the mix.

But throughout the 38-game history of the Super Bowl, there has been no greater honor bestowed upon an entertainer than to be selected to sing or perform the national anthem -- an honor that Beyonc'e9 Knowles is taking very seriously.

`` This is going to be one of the highlights of my life,'' the 22-year-old Houston native said at a Reliant Stadium press conference Friday. `` One of my favorite moments ever was hearing Whitney Houston at the Super Bowl, singing `The Star-Spangled Banner.' I cried when I saw that, and I got chills ... and I said, `one day, I have to do that.' That was my dream.''

Dreams can come true at the Super Bowl for football players and singers alike. Thirteen years after Ms. Houston's rousing rendition of the anthem at Super Bowl XXV galvanized a nation during the Gulf War, recordings of it are still heard before high school and college basketball games across the nation.

Beyonc'e9 (she prefers the first-name-only reference) hopes her version will have the same kind of longevity.

`` Yes, absolutely,'' she said in response to this humble (and slightly star-struck) reporter's query. `` I would love that. I would love to release it, maybe ... who knows? I just want it to be memorable. And I'm sure it will be.''

Friday's press conference was an interesting detour from the day-in, day-out diet of football served this week in Houston.

I've spent the last 27 years sticking tape recorders into the faces of the stars of the National Football League, but it's not quite the same as coming face-to-face with one of the hottest new singing talents in the nation, a lovely young woman whose versatility charmed audiences in her role as Foxxy Cleopatra in `` Austin Powers in Goldmember.''

The gut feeling here is that Beyonc'e9 is genuinely honored -- almost a little fearful -- of singing the national anthem on the biggest stage in sports, made even more challenging by the fact that it's in her hometown.

`` I'm almost in tears now thinking about how overwhelming it is, and for it to be in Houston? It's just unbelievable,'' she said. `` It's going to be a special day for me. I swear, you're all going to see a couple of tears. I'm surprised ... I'm just speechless, I'm so honored.''

Her work ethic regarding her pending performance would probably please a taskmaster like Patriots' coach Bill Belichick. Beyonc'e9 said she has already practiced `` quite a few times,'' including with the accompaniment of an 80-piece orchestra to approximate the game-day performance.

`` It was so beautiful to hear all of the wonderful musicians ... I can't wait to perform,'' she said. `` Every time I do it, by the end I have chills and I'm almost sweating because it takes so much out of you.''

Beyonc'e9 wasn't alone in Friday's spotlight. The NFL also trotted out the members of Boston-based rock band Aerosmith, country stars Willie Nelson and Toby Keith and local Latin band Walter Suhr and Mango Punch to tout their participation in the pre-game entertainment package.

Aerosmith, those venerable rockers from the South Shore, last played a Super Bowl as part of the halftime show in Tampa three years ago. Coming back for this pre-game show was a no-brainer, lead singer Steven Tyler said in his own inimitable way.

`` Did you ever eat just one cheeseburger? How about good sex, tell me you only did that once,'' he said. `` It's just a slammin' thing. It's full of energy, and anything Aerosmith does is worth doing over again.''

Eyebrow-lifting as that statement might have been, there will be a serious tone to Aerosmith's performance Sunday. It will be part of a tribute to the seven NASA astronauts who perished in the breakup of the space shuttle Columbia over Texas a year ago this weekend.

`` They let us go down to the facility (at the Johnson Space Center) and pay homage to it,'' bassist Tom Hamilton said. `` They let us hang around upside down in zero gravity ... as we have for so many years.''

True to their Boston roots, the boys from Aerosmith were pleased that their return to the Super Bowl coincided with the Patriots' return.

`` It's actually great for us to be down here and be Pats' fans and see it all come together,'' Hamilton said. `` One of the great things about staying in Boston all these years is that we've made a lot of friends ... the Krafts and the team are friends of ours. There's just so much irony in the fact that we're here and they'd be down here participating in this thing at the same time.''

But when they were asked for a prediction for the outcome of Super Bowl XXXVIII, they were wisely diplomatic.

`` I won't jinx it,'' Tyler said. `` But we know the answer.''

MARK FARINELLA may be reached at 508-236-0315 or via e-mail at



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