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
`` 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
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
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
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
31 JANUARY 2004