Whitney Houston’s Lip-Sync Controversy Was a "Riddle, Wrapped in a Mystery, Inside an Enigma"

In 1991, Whitney Houston was to sing her rendition of the National Anthem at Super Bowl XXV, which she did. However, in the days that followed, a controversy arose when it was reported that she lip-synced to her own pre-recorded version of the song. Accounts of the performance vary. Bob Best, an NFL pre-game entertainment official, stated that the NFL chose to air a pre-recorded version because they felt there were too many risks involved in doing it live. However, Dan Klores, a spokesman for Whitney Houston explained that Whitney did sing, but the microphone was turned off. He said it was a technical decision, partially based on the noise factor. Two years later, Kathryn Holm McManus, former executive director of the orchestra, said that everyone was playing and Whitney was singing, but there were no live microphones. She claimed Whitney was lip-synching and the orchestra was “finger-synching.” Rickey Minor, who was Whitney Houston’s musical director, said that she had actually sung the anthem live, but the audience had heard a pre-recorded version of the song. In slight contrast, Super Bowl engineer Larry Estrin said that TV viewers actually heard the studio version of Houston’s song “plus her live voice, plus the audience reaction.” However, Houston’s personal publicist said, “Our understanding is Whitney sang live into a live microphone.” Whether we will ever know the true version of what actually happened that day remains a mystery.