The pop superstar’s rousing rendition of the national anthem at President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ Inauguration Jan. 20 may be “the most important” one of our time, says Parsons
It isn’t every day that you turn on the TV and see your boss singing the national anthem on Inauguration Day.
But on Jan. 20, Brockett Parsons joined more than 40 million people worldwide in watching Lady Gaga bring down the house with her chills-inducing rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” for President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris‘ swearing-in.
The part that got him most? When Gaga gestured toward the flags flying triumphantly at the U.S. Capitol, slowing down to emphasize the words, “that our flag was still there,” in a powerful nod to the nation’s resilience amidst the deadly global pandemic and in the shadow of the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.
“To me it may be the most important rendition of the national anthem at an inauguration, considering the unprecedented level of pain the country has been in and the magnitude of the moment,” says Parsons, the pop superstar’s longtime keyboardist who invented the world’s first circular electronic keyboard, the PianoArc.
“There’s no better way to try to get people together than by crushing the national anthem,” he says. “And she crushed it.”
Since 2010, when Parsons joined Lady Gaga’s band for the world tour of her hit album, The Fame Monster, he’s jammed with her on four world tours, at the Super Bowl halftime show, the Grammy Awards, on SNL, and most recently, at the MTV Video Music Awards in September, when Gaga performed ‘Rain on Me’ with Ariana Grande.
He’s even featured on a few songs from A Star Is Born, the hit movie that won her an Oscar in 2019 for Best Original Song – “Shallow” and a nomination for Best Actress.
Now he hopes his newest single, “Strong, Free and Beautiful,” released Jan. 15, also crushes it.
Not only is it the first time he sings on one of the songs he’s penned, “but this is a special one to me,” he says. “It means something to me.”
Last June or so, Parsons started writing a song about a guy who was interested in a woman. “I was into somebody and I just expressed myself about that,” he says.
As he continued writing, a theme began to emerge. “I started thinking about the hook —strong, free, and beautiful — which took on a deeper meaning to me.
“I’ve always admired women who are free in what they do,” he says. “It’s most attractive to me when people are in their own element.”
Produced and edited by Yan Feldman with help from Eric Barden, the video features a montage of some of Parsons’ female friends being filmed doing what makes them happiest.
His friend Orejona Ashton can be seen dancing and working on a black and white portrait of singer and civil rights activist Nina Simone.
“She put a lot of time and energy into just filming herself, doing what she enjoyed doing out in the desert, and painting,” he says.
Pal Jennifer Nau is tap dancing with the New York City skyline behind her; musician and pianist Summer Swee-Singh boxes and works out in Los Angeles; singer Leslie Goldberg frolics along a hedgerow-lined lane.
His longtime friend, singer Toni Menage, who was an original member of the band Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam, can be seen hanging out in New York City.
He credits his friends with coming up with each scenario they’re in.
“They did all the work!” he is quick to point out.
Sidelined from touring because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Parsons has kept busy making his own music. “The approach that I’ve taken during the pandemic is to do a song maybe every month or two,” says Parsons.
On Friday, he dropped his latest single, “Forever Chasing the Sun,” a collaboration with producer/ instrumentalist Danny Asadi.
For “Strong, Free and Beautiful,” the message he hopes listeners take home is simple.
“It’s a vision of a post-mayhem world where people can just be free to be what they want to be and where people see the beauty in someone else’s beauty. If your fellow man or fellow woman succeeds, you succeed because they feel good about the world. And then the whole thing is better for everybody.”