Video: Many voices, same song, the National Anthem

The “Star-Spangled Banner,” a familiar feature to the beginning ceremonies for many a ball game, has been performed in a variety of keys, styles, tempos and tones — often with beautiful results, sometimes not.

At LSU, it’s not just the big sports such as football that include the National Anthem at the beginning.

Other sports too begin that way also with performers selected through auditions held by the LSU School of Music and LSU Athletic Department. Those auditioning are judged on their power, pitch, timbre, stage presence and diction of the lyrics. The video attached to this story features clips from last fall’s auditions.

According to the Smithsonian Institute, it was first called “The Defence of Fort McHenry” and was written early on Sept. 14, 1814, by Georgetown lawyer Francis Scott Key when Key saw the American flag still flying over the Fort McHenry near Baltimore, Md.

“The published broadside included instructions,” according to the Smithsonian, “that it be sung to the 18th-century British melody “Anacreon in Heaven” — a tune Key had in mind when he penned his poem. Copies of the song were distributed to every man at the fort and around Baltimore. The first documented public performance of the words and music together took place at the Holliday Street Theatre in Baltimore on Oct. 19, 1814. A music store subsequently published the words and music under the title “The Star-Spangled Banner.” ”

The original Star-Spangled Banner is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.