James C. McKinley Jr., The New York Times
January 23, 2013 13:53 IST
Beyonce sang the American national anthem at President Obama’s inauguration
Beyonce's performance of the national anthem at President Barack Obama's inauguration on Monday was everything it should be: soaring, moving, symbolic and musically superlative.
But was it actually live?
A spokeswoman for the U.S. Marine Band said early Tuesday that Beyonce only pretended to sing, lip-syncing the words to a backing track. What the listeners heard was a version she had recorded at a Marine Corps studio in Washington on Sunday night, said the spokeswoman, Master Sgt. Kristin duBois.
But by Tuesday afternoon, the Marine Corps had backed off duBois' statement, saying that while the band had not played live, neither duBois nor anyone else in the Marine Band was in a position to know if Beyonce had sung the anthem live or not.
Capt. Gregory A. Wolf, a Marine Corps spokesman, said the corps had determined that a live performance of the anthem was ill-advised because its members had little time to rehearse with the singer.
A publicist for Beyonce did not immediately return telephone calls and email messages.
Earlier, duBois had said that the weather was good and that the Marine Band had no trouble with intonation during most of the prelude and ceremony, nearly 2 1/2 hours of music. Still, at the last minute, she said, the band received word that Beyonce would use a recorded version of the national anthem.
"We don't know why," duBois said. "But that is what we were instructed to do so that is what we did."
Wolf said it was standard operating procedure to record the music for the inauguration in advance, in case the weather is bad and it becomes impossible for musicians to keep their instruments in tune. Four years ago Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman and two colleagues used backing tracks during their performance at Obama's first inauguration because of the bitter cold.
© 2013 New York Times News Service