"Never heard it sung any better."
That was NFL announcer Joe Buck's quick take on opera singer Renee Fleming's rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" before Sunday's Super Bowl matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and Denver Broncos at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ.
Accompanied by a light string section and a military choir, the American soprano was a bold choice by organizers in that she's far from a household name. Backing that up, Twitter-using football fans quickly made "Renee Flemming," with an extra "m," a trend right after the performance.
The notoriously difficult song turned out to be no match for the Rochester, NY native, who kept the arrangement simple and even a bit reserved by major sports-event standards. There aren't many vocalists that can approach the "And the rocket's red glare" part with zero fear. At least then, she got to sing out with the voice that just won her a fourth Grammy Award (for classical vocal solo for her album "Poemes").
Moments before, Newark native Queen Latifah was joined by the New Jersey Youth Choir for a soaring performance of "America The Beautiful." The 72-member choir was all smiles as they backed up the multi-hyphenate artist.
According to NJ.com, Queen wanted an all-girls choir and after seeing clips of them online, called via Skype last Monday during a regular rehearsal to see if they wanted to sing with her. Watch:
After the opening kickoff, Fleming took to Twitter to praise Queen Latifah
— Renee Fleming (@reneesmusings) February 3, 2014