Commentary by Jacqueline Bennett newsandviewsjb

Give me country crooner George Strait over Aerosmith any day. That said, Steven Tyler, lead singer for the Boston-based Aerosmith rock band and American Idol judge, has been unfairly maligned for his rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” during the American Football League championship game between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens January 22, in Massachusetts.

The Internet has been burning up with condemnations of Tyler for “screaming” the national anthem. When doesn’t Tyler sound like he is screaming?

Critics charge that at 63, age and hard living have caught up with Tyler who struggled to reach the high notes. Though somewhat deteriorated, Tyler’s performance last Sunday did not sound all that different from his renditions at a 2004 World Series game in Boston or at the Indianapolis 500 in 2007. Both are available in online videos. Sunday’s cold temperatures in Foxborough may also have put a strain on Tyler’s vocal chords.

Comparisons have been made between Tyler and Roseanne Barr’s butchering of the anthem – apples and oranges. Barr was a stand-up comic turned comedic actress, not a singer, who never should have been invited to sing the anthem at a major league baseball game. She should have respectfully declined.

On the other hand, Tyler is a professional singer – albeit hard rock – whose heart seemed to be in the right place and as far as I could tell, put himself on the line and gave it his all to honor his country and his home team in his own unique way. Clearly in Tyler’s corner, the crowd at Gillette Stadium appeared to sense that and began singing along with him towards the end.

Pot shots at Tyler have extended beyond his vocalization to his appearance, under fire for sporting a “flashy” New England Patriots scarf. A rocker with a penchant for flash is hardly news.

As it turns out, the scarf was handmade for herself by a Sturbridge woman who works as a receptionist for the Patriots. On ABC40, Scott Coen reported the scarf was made by Kerry McCormack, who through a chance encounter with Tyler’s fiancee let Tyler borrow the scarf and wear it. Tyler then autographed the scarf and returned it.

Tyler is not the first professional singer to scream “The Star Spangled Banner” at high profile events. The onus is on those extending the invitations. Surely, somewhere in Beantown there is a singer who may not be well-known, but could deliver an anthem that would send chills up one’s spine – in a good way.

One of the most beautiful renditions of “The Star Spangled Banner,” executed with the utmost respect, was offered at the XXXIX Super Bowl by the combined choir of the United States Naval Academy, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the U.S. Coast Guard Academy accompanied by the U.S Army herald trumpets.

Worth keeping in mind.