Fans defend Beyonce in inaugural controversy

LOS ANGELES — High-profile vocalists, including 2009 presidential inauguration singer Aretha Franklin, are coming to Beyonce Knowles' defense since the singer, 31, came under fire for reportedly lip-synching the "Star Spangled Banner" at President Obama's inauguration.

"When I heard the news this evening that she was prerecorded, I really laughed," Franklin, 70, told ABC News. "I thought it was funny because the weather down there was about 46 or 44 degrees, and for most singers that is just not good singing weather."

C3 Presents, an Austin, Texas, company behind the Austin City Limits Music Festival and Lollapalooza, staged the inauguration.

Fans and critics initially applauded her take on "The Star-Spangled Banner."

But questions as to the performance's authenticity changed the conversation Tuesday when sources with the U.S. Marine Band, who performed atop their own prerecorded music at the inauguration, said that Beyonce used a taped vocal track in the performance.

A Marine Band spokeswoman told the Times of London: "We did prerecord it, and it was Beyonce's decision at the last minute to go with the prerecorded version. ... We prerecorded all music as a matter of course and have done since time immemorial."

Representatives of fellow inauguration performers Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor have confirmed their performances were live and not prerecorded.

After the news caused an uproar among disappointed fans (that in some ways has eclipsed the day's myriad other events), another Marine Band spokesman followed up later that day with a walk-back that left room for even more speculation: "Regarding Ms. Knowles-Carter's vocal performance, no one in the Marine Band is in a position to assess whether it was live or prerecorded," Capt. Eric Flanagan said. He did affirm that the Marine Band's instrumental accompaniment was prerecorded.

This week on "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart," Jennifer Lopez attested to the need for prerecorded vocals at these types of big public performances, saying, "Sometimes it happens when you are in certain stadiums and certain venues and things, they do prerecord stuff because you're going to have that terrible slap-back," referring to the natural but distracting echo and reverb that can occur in large venues.

This might not even be the last time Beyonce uses a prerecorded vocal on a major telecast this year. She's scheduled to perform, with her bandmates in Destiny's Child, at the halftime ceremonies of this year's Super Bowl.

But Schilling said that in most cases, vocally confident artists shouldn't be afraid of singing live. "Live is always fun and a little different each time. The show will never be flawless, but I've found it to be a higher energy and a more engaging performance."

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