“She did not sing live,” the official, who asked to remain anonymous, told CNN, adding that the singer made the decision herself to go with a pre-recording the night before Monday’s ceremony.
“Because she didn’t have time to rehearse with the Marine Band, she decided to use her recording with the Marine Band,” the official added. “It was all Beyonce.”
Mid-performance, Beyonce pulled out her earpiece, which ostensibly was being used to time her lip movements to the music; how she was able to continue to perfectly time her singing could be a result of having performed the song so often.
Other performers Monday included Kelly Clarkson, James Taylor and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir; there has been no indication that they did not perform their songs live.
On Tuesday, a spokesperson for the Marine Corps Band told the London Times its members performed live.
“We don’t know why Beyonce decided to use prerecorded music,” the spokesperson added. “All music [for inaugural ceremonies] is prerecorded as a matter of course, and that’s something we’ve done for years and years. The Marine Band did perform live throughout the ceremony, but we received last-minute word that Beyonce wanted to use the recording.”
Later, the Marine Corps issued another statement that threw its initial admission into question.
“The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) requested that the Marine Band accompany Beyonce Knowles-Carter in the performance of the Star-Spangled Banner at the 2013 Inaugural Ceremony. However, there was no opportunity for Ms. Knowles-Carter to rehearse with the Marine Band before the Inauguration so it was determined that a live performance by the band was ill-advised for such a high-profile event. Each piece of music scheduled for performance in the Inauguration is pre-recorded for use in case of freezing temperatures, equipment failure, or extenuating circumstances. Regarding Ms. Knowles-Carter’s vocal performance, no one in the Marine Band is in a position to assess whether it was live or pre-recorded.”
Beyonce sang “At Last” at the 2009 Inaugural Ball for the president and first lady and, along with husband Jay-Z, has become close with the first family.
In 2009, Jennifer Hudson lip-synced the National Anthem at the Super Bowl, and Faith Hill lipped along with a prerecorded “America the Beautiful.” And Whitney Houston lip-synced her famous rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the 1991 Super Bowl.
Among the celebrities who have come to Beyonce’s defense are Aretha Franklin, Alicia Keys and former Destiny’s Child bandmate Michelle Williams.
Earlier, White House spokesman Jay Carney told the press at a briefing that he has “no idea” whether Beyonce lip-synced.
“What I know about this I know this I know, mostly know from what I’ve read and shockingly it has not all been consistent,” he said, as quoted by Politico. “I actually have no idea what’s true and what’s not about what happened here and I don’t think it’s particularly important to address form the podium here.”
Beyonce, who will take the stage at halftime of the Super Bowl on Feb. 3, has yet to comment.