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Beyonce lets others do talking on lip-synch drama

Beyonce sings the National Anthem during inauguration ceremonies for U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, January 21, 2013. REUTERS/Ke
Beyonce sings the National Anthem during inauguration ceremonies for U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington, January 21, 2013. REUTERS/Ke

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Beyonce's lips remained sealed on Wednesday over her headline-making rendition of the U.S. national anthem at President Barack Obama's inauguration, leaving others to do the talking over whether she lip-synched to a pre-recorded track.

Celebrity magazine Us Weekly quoted a source saying the Grammy-winning artist was disappointed by the controversy she stirred by singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Monday's solemn ceremony using a backing track - and drew a comparison to late Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti.

As some of America's singing stars offered sympathy and understanding, an inaugural official, who declined to be identified, told CNN that Beyonce "did not sing live."

"Because she didn't have time to rehearse with the U.S. Marine Band, she decided to use her recording with the Marine Band," the official told CNN on Wednesday.

The U.S. Marine band said in a statement on Tuesday that no one in the band "is in a position to assess whether it was live or pre-recorded."

Us Weekly meanwhile quoted a different, also unidentified source, as saying "She did sing, but used a track."

"She didn't think there was anything wrong with it," the source told the celebrity magazine's website on Wednesday.

"Pavarotti has done it! It was freezing out, and if she messed up just one note, that would have been the story ... Everybody uses these tracks, and the music director advised it," the Us Weekly source added.

Pavarotti lip-synched his last performance, at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, because of the bitter weather and his failing health, according to orchestra conductor Leone Magiera in a 2008 book. The Italian tenor died in 2007 of pancreatic cancer at age 71.

Beyonce's publicist has declined to comment on the furor, but Aretha Franklin and Jennifer Lopez chimed in with their support.

"When I heard the news ... that she was pre-recorded I really laughed," Franklin, 70, who sang live at Obama's first inauguration in 2009, 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 ... she did a beautiful job with the pre-record ... next time I'll probably do the same."

Lopez told Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show" on Tuesday that many performers resort to using pre-recorded tracks.

"You know, sometimes it happens," Lopez said. "When you're in certain stadiums and in certain venues, they do pre-record things because you're going to have that terrible slapback."

Beyonce, 31, was giving her first major public performance since giving birth to a baby in January 2012. On Sunday, she had posted on Instagram photo of herself in a recording studio holding the sheet music for "The Star-Spangled Banner."

She is due to take the spotlight again next month by performing, live, at the February 3 Super Bowl halftime show.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

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