The voice on the message is that of Lorena Peril, and in her soaring voice, she is singing the national anthem.
“Ooooh say can you see? And the ramparts over the sea! And the flags that we shaaaared, are so truthfully willing!”
Peril is the firecracker vocalist in Fantasy at Luxor, but she’s more than that. She also happens to be one of the great national anthem singers in the city, and one of the great singers of any sort. That’s why she’s been entrusted to sing in a Strip production show, which has led to several national anthem assignments throughout Las Vegas.
So Peril knows what it’s like to feel those pre-anthem butterflies but has managed to pull off each anthem rendition flawlessly. Sadly, the same cannot be said of Christina Aguilera, who regretfully lost track of the lyrics in Sunday’s Super Bowl XLV rendition of the national anthem. One hundred and 11 million viewers watched the broadcast, so it was something of a bummer.
For Peril, coincidences abound in Aguilera’s vocal derailment. Peril portrayed Aguilera during her stint in American Superstars at Stratosphere, and that assignment alone is evidence of her powerful voice. Peril’s boyfriend, Ray “Ray Jon” Narbaitz, is himself a longtime national anthem singer, and his band, Red Light Vegas, performs Thursday through Sunday nights at Planet Hollywood’s Extra Lounge. And, lastly, Ray Jon is a graduate of Pleasant Valley High School in Chico, the alma mater of Packer QB Aaron Rodgers and myself.
It’s all so very weird, but not nearly as weird as Aguilera’s pass at “The Star Spangled Banner.”
She tripped when she started the line, “What so proudly we watched,” errantly reciting, “What so proudly we watched, at the twilight's last streaming," in place of "O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming."
For Peril, there was a foretelling that Aguilera would be in trouble even before she started in on the song.
“Ray Jon said, ‘This is going to suck,’” Peril recalls.
As Aguilera began singing, Peril says, “I went, ‘Oh no, I hope she doesn’t overdo it.’ You just need to sing the song and tell the story, but she started overrunning with ‘Wha-a-a-a-a-a-a!’ ”
When Aguilera botched the line, Peril backed up her DVR. “I slapped my forehead.”
Aguilera was “showing off,” as Peril says. “She was doing vocal aerobics instead of just singing about our country. That’s what got her into trouble.”
Peril says she, too, has “blanked” on the anthem lyrics. It happens, as the song is uniquely challenging vocally, and the audience is typically paying rapt attention. In her most recent anthem effort, Peril nailed “The Star Spangled Banner” at Mayor Oscar Goodman’s State of the City address. Several hundred dignitaries filled the event center at Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health to hear Goodman’s final such speech as mayor.
“I was very nervous,” she says. “That was a really important event.”
A far cry from Fantasy, to be sure. But Peril will sing the anthem again — she hopes to one day sing it prior to a 49ers game, as that is her favorite team (who could have drafted Rodgers in 2005, speaking of fumbles). Peril does have some advice for anyone taking on the anthem:
“Don’t panic, sing it with your heart, and just tell the story of our country.”
Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.