In order to understand the incredible impact of Whitney's performance at Super Bowl XXV, its important to remember the feeling of fear and anxiety within the United States and around the world in the beginning of 1991.
On January 17, 1991, the first Gulf War began on live television. Security agencies were worried about the very real possibility of terrorism at Super Bowl XXV, so much so that alternate dates are considered. The Goodyear blimp was deflated, swat teams are installed on the roof of Tampa Stadium, and concrete bunkers are set up in the parking lot. But despite it all, there was Whitney Houston.
Whitney, 27 at the time, was already the first artist in history to have seven singles to go No. 1 on Billboard's Hot 100. Rickey Minor, Houston’s longtime musical director, recently told the NY Post “we wanted [the song] to feel like Whitney. So the orchestrator, John Clayton, did an arrangement [where] we added some gospel chords and some jazz chords. So now, we’re not only changing the time but we’re changing the harmonic structure of the song, which is a huge risk. I wanted to make sure that, musically, it gave her places to go.”
Whitney belted out what is widely considered the greatest national anthem rendition of all time. "The song itself became a top-20 pop hit. Folks called in and requested Whitney Houston's national anthem on the radio" writes columnist Danyel Smith of ESPN. "It can't articulate the profound relief she granted Black teens in the mid-1980s. Just the sight of her, onstage, on MTV, on an album cover -- Houston was proof of life. It became easier for Black girls in particular to flex, to breathe -- to revel in visibility and possibility"
As for the iconic white tracksuit with red and blue stripes and matching headband that Houston wore, "She was like, ‘I wanna be able to go to my seat and just enjoy the game.’ And she said, ‘My Giants are gonna win too, just so you know!’” recalls Minor.
Akiko Stehrenberger, a 15 time CLIO award winning artist designed this official screenprint commemorating the 30th anniversary of this historic event for Collectionzz.
I was honored to commemorate the thirty year anniversary of Whitney Houston's Star Spangled Banner performance, because, come on, who doesn't love Whitney? I wanted to pick a painting style that references that specific era and felt as celebratory, energetic and colorful as that moment in time. - Akiko Stehrenberger
Collectionzz is honored to be part of another celebration of Whitney’s unforgettable life and accomplishments!