Who Is Renee Fleming? Opera singer to belt National Anthem at Super Bowl
Don’t expect this year’s Super Bowl national anthem to be pitchy. Fox selected world-renowned opera singer Renée Fleming to do the honors.
Fleming’s rendition will be a departure from the usual pop diva performance. The last five singers to perform the “Star-Spangled Banner” read like a who’s who of female super stars: Alicia Keys, Kelly Clarkson, Christina Aguilera, Carrie Underwood, and Jennifer Hudson. Instead of sparkly pizzazz, Fleming will bring classical glamour to football’s biggest stage.
While she may not be a household name (yet!) Fleming definitely has the musical chops to pull off a performance of this caliber. The soprano, known as “The People’s Diva,” is a four-time Grammy winner, and President Obama recognized her ability to “[captivate] audiences around the world with an adventurous repertoire spanning opera and the classical tradition to jazz and contemporary pop” by awarding her the National Medal of Arts in 2013.
Her angelic voice has become an unlikely part of the pop culture zeitgeist in recent years. You may recognize Fleming from her recent performance at the National Christmas Tree lighting in Washington D.C. in December.
After spending years serenading patrons at esteemed cultural venues like the Metropolitan Opera, Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall, Fleming has become a prominent figure at popular events. In 2008, she sang at Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square during the Beijing Olympics, the following year she performed at Obama’s presidential inauguration, and last fall, she sang the David Letterman‘s “Top Ten List” on The Late Show. It turns out all of that was just practice for what could be her most viewed performance yet: singing the national anthem at this year’s Super Bowl.
The big game often pegs a singer from the area to sing the national anthem. When Jordin Sparks performed in 2008, the game took place in her hometown of Phoenix, AZ, and in 2004, Beyonce brought down the house in Houston. With this year’s Super Bowl at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey (jointly hosted by New Jersey and New York), Fleming will follow in that occasional tradition, as she grew up in Rochester, NY.
Watch as Fleming sings the “Top Ten Opera Lyrics” on The Late Show with David Letterman: