A band spokeswoman told news outlets Tuesday that the band was notified at the last minute before the performance that Beyonce would use a pre-recorded voice track. Band members played their instruments live with no intonation problems in the chilly conditions ahead of the national anthem, the spokeswoman said.
"The entire performance was live except for the national anthem," Master Sgt. Kristin duBois told The New York Times and other outlets. "We don't know why. But that is what we were instructed to do so that is what we did. It's not because Beyonce can't sing. We all know Beyonce can sing. We all know the Marine Band can play."
All inaugural music is pre-recorded in case weather conditions or other circumstances could interrupt the program.
A representative for Beyonce did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Kelly Clarkson's representative said she sang live to perform "My Country, `Tis of Thee."
Inaugural organizers also did not immediately respond to requests for comment on why the musical plans were changed at the last minute.
The use of a recording is typical in big events. In 2009, cellist Yo-Yo Ma was questioned about "hand-syncing" for Obama's first inauguration. Ma said instruments weren't functioning properly in 19-degree weather.
Even in good conditions, producing good sound can be a challenge in a large open space.
Some artists choose to lip-sync. Whitney Houston's memorable performance of the national anthem in 1991 at the Super Bowl was sung to a track.
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