Whitney Houston’s singing of the national anthem at Super Bowl XXV is widely regarded as one of the most iconic moments in both sports and music.
Now, 31 years after that performance, and on the 10-year anniversary of Houston’s tragic death, ESPN’s E60 will explore how, set against the backdrop of the Gulf War, her performance that night helped unify the country and why Houston’s stunning rendition still resonates today.
Whitney’s Anthem will premiere on Friday, Feb. 11, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN and will be available afterward via streaming on demand on ESPN+ and the ESPN App. Houston died on Feb. 11, 2012.
Super Bowl XXV was played January 27, 1991, in Tampa between the New York Giants and Buffalo Bills. The event occurred just days after U.S. and Allied forces launched Operation Desert Storm in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. The country was on edge.
In the half-hour E60, the story of the anthem is told by the people who were intimately involved. They include Houston’s musical director; the NFL executive who almost rejected Houston’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner;” NFL Hall of Famers who were feet away from the performance; legendary sports announcers who thought the game would be the most memorable moment; and a Desert Storm military veteran who was watching Houston sing from the other side of the planet. As Jeremy Schaap reports, sports, politics and music converged in that unforgettable moment.
Among those interviewed in the program:
Rickey Minor — award-winning music producer/Whitney Houston’s music director
Al Michaels — ABC Sports play-by-play commentator for Super Bowl XXV
Chris Berman — ESPN commentator
Jim Kelly – former Buffalo Bills quarterback
Bruce Smith – former Bills defensive end
Andre Reed – former Bills wide receiver
Ottis Anderson – former New York Giants running back/Super Bowl XXV MVP
Carl Banks – former Giants linebacker
Jim Steeg – former Director, NFL Special Events
Lt. Don Collins — Gulf War Veteran, U.S. Air Force
Chris Connelly — entertainment journalist and ESPN commentator
Danyel Smith – author, journalist, producer, host
Whitney’s Anthem is produced by Russell Dinallo and Simon Baumgart.
The storytelling also will touch other ESPN platforms – Schaap will be a guest on the ESPN Daily Podcast on Feb. 11 and ESPN.com will have a written piece to accompany the E60 episode. The daily Outside the Lines segment on the noon ET edition of SportsCenter on ESPN will have an excerpt from the program on Feb. 11.
After the television debut, the program will re-air multiple times across ESPN Networks and will be available for on-demand viewing on ESPN+ and the ESPN App.
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