January 22, 2013
Beyonce "sings" the National Anthem. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)
Beyonce “sings” the National Anthem. (Jim Bourg/Reuters)

Okay, so, when Beyonce started singing the Star Spangled Banner, I was impressed. The R&B diva known for her vocal acrobatics (and dancing prowess) was pleasantly restrained. So much so, I tweeted “Beyonce giving a traditional rendition of the anthem. No vocal flourishes…..yet.” No sooner had I hit send on that tweet did Blue Ivy’s mom let ’er rip.

Don’t get me wrong. I thought Jay-Z’s wife was phenomenal. When she did let her voice run the musical range like Olympic hurdler, it was thrilling to hear — and to watch. When Beyonce ripped out her earpiece while singing, you had the feeling you were watching an artist publicly declare she didn’t need the crutch of amplified music. She was a part of history and wanted to hear it with her own ears and go with the moment.

Or so we thought.

The Marine Band confirmed to the New York Times that Beyonce decided at the last minute to use a recording made the night before rather than perform live. No big deal. Recordings are made as a security blanket in case the frigid temperatures freeze up the vocal pipes, the instruments or the fingers. At President Obama’s first inaugural,  Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman mimed their way through their gig on the west front of the Capitol. But knowing this, the whole earpiece thing is put into a broader perspective. That dramatic flourish was done for effect. A move only a true diva could pull off (literally).

Still, I’m not going to give Miss “Put a ring on it”  too much grief for what she did. Perhaps she wanted to protect her voice. Maybe her voice went on lockdown. It’s one thing to perform before thousands in a darkened stadium. It’s a whole other ball game when the nation and the world are watching you in broad daylight.

Still, I ain’t mad at her, as the kids would say. After all, she did make the recording live with the Marine Band at their studio the night before. And given the way she lip synched for her life, you just know she would have sung it exactly the same way if she had actually sung.

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Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.