The 'virtuoso of the National Anthem' on a mission to save singers


by CNN

Posted on July 4, 2014 at 5:01 PM

(CNN) - As you catch a ball game or fireworks display this 4th of July weekend, you're probably going to hear the “Star Spangled Banner” - a song that can be inspiring when sung well, but when it's sung poorly - ouch!

Now, one man is on a personal mission to prevent those cringe-worthy moments for singers. 
You could call him the virtuoso of the National Anthem.

Michael Dean is on a mission to save singers' egos and our ears

“The worst part is those performances are bad for everyone, they're bad for the singer and they are horrendous for the listeners,” he said.

Call it the "how-not-to-butcher-the-National-Anthem" class.

Scores of pop stars, a list so exclusive it's kept secret, have come to him to prep for their National Anthem performances and avoid humiliation by learning not only the technique of the song, but its meaning.

The song has its hazards.  A sprawling vocal range of an octave and a half setting up to a crucial moment, well, usually crashes and burns.

And the tricky lyrics, written not in normal speech patterns but in poetry.

Dean said so many people forget the words because they don't understand them.

“If it's just a lot of nonsense words, then the audience is going to perceive it as a lot of nonsense words.  So studying why this piece was originally written is a very important for the singer to do,” he said.

Sadly it seems these days, the anticipation of a bad anthem is now the norm.

“A lot of people have told me when they listen to the national anthem and it goes reasonably well, the only feeling that they feel is relief, they don't actually feel moved, or changed, or inspired, just feel relief that it wasn't awful,” Dean said.

Cringe worthy moments Dean is working one note at a time to avoid.

An American composer and conductor is debuting a new arrangement of the star spangled banner at the National Mall in D.C. on July 4.

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