Any test of a true musician is performing the National Anthem in front of a crowd. One performance, good or bad, can follow an artist for the rest of their career.
So, on this Independence Day, find below 10 of the best performances in recent memory. Some are legendary, some are controversial, and some singers didn’t even know they were being filmed.
From 10th-ranked to 1st, the list:
10. Lady Antebellum, 2010. The country group put some twang in the Star Spangled Anthem, and show off their absolutely incredible harmonizing skills. They sang in front of a World Series Game 2 audience, who were blown away by their performance.
9. Carrie Underwood, 2006. The American Idol winner gave this incredible performance before the National Football Conference Championship between the Seattle Seahawks and the Carolina Panthers. It was her first big moment as a “super star,” and she definitely made it count.
8. 40 military children at a movie theater, 2014. Before every film is screened at a movie theater on a U.S. military post, the national anthem is played. Usually, soldiers stand at attention and family members cover their hearts. These kids, living at the Rota Air Force Base, sang their hearts out. Lucky for us, someone had a camera rolling.
7. Mike Mullins, 2014. This die-hard Red Sox fan, born with Down Syndrome, had always dreamed of singing in front of his favorite crowd. Those in the baseball club’s organization took notice, and Mike hit a home run with his passionate performance.
6. Jimi Hendrix, 1969. Hendrix performed this guitar solo at Woodstock, and used amplifier feedback and distortion to replicate the sound of bombs bursting in air. Though it’s a highly controversial performance, Hendrix showed his love of country, and that is why it has earned a spot on this list.
5. Athena Creese, 2009. 10-year-old Athena proves that performing the National Anthem isn’t just for adults. She sang at the U.S. Airways Center in Phoenix. For such a little girl, she sure has a big voice!
4. Marvin Gaye, 1983. The smooth soul singer sang the anthem the way only Marvin Gaye could. With a keyboard and a drumbeat backing him up, Gaye wooed the world, and showed that the Star Spangled Banner was cool.
3. Whitney Houston, Super Bowl 1991. Houston blew the audience away with this rendition of the National Anthem. Until this point, America hadn’t heard it sung quite like that. It’s a performance that’s unlikely to be matched.
2. Jim Cornelison, 9/11/11. Beloved by the city of Chicago, Cornelison is a tenor who sings the National Anthem before Chicago Blackhawks games. On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Cornelison gave this jaw-dropping performance at Soldier Field.
1. The U.S. Military Chorus, 2005 Superbowl. Chorus members from the United States Military Academy at West Point, Air Force Academy, Coast Guard Academy, and Naval Academy put aside their rivalries and performed a stunning rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.