Pop icon Beyonce didn't sidestep the lip-sync controversy that erupted after her performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" at President Barack Obama's inauguration. She embraced it.

Before she took the podium to talk about Sunday's Pepsi Super Bowl Halftime Show, she walked onstage at the Earnest N. Morial Convention Center with a hand-held microphone and belted out a flawless version of the National Anthem.

"Any questions?" she said.

It wasn't the most dynamic lead-up to the halftime extravaganza. That distinction belongs to Prince, who brought his entire band to the 2007 news conference and performed several songs instead of taking questions. But Beyonce obviously knew that there would be inquiries about the inauguration, and she met them head on, insisting that a combination of scheduling and weather problems convinced her not to try and sing the anthem live.

"I am a perfectionist," she explained. "And one thing about me: I practice until my feet bleed. I did not have time to rehearse with the orchestra. It was a live television show and a very, very important emotional show for me — one of my proudest moments — and due to the weather, due to the delay, due to no proper sound check, I did not feel comfortable taking the risk.

"It was about the president and the inauguration and I wanted to make him and my country proud, so I decided to sing along with my prerecorded track, which is very common in the music industry, and I'm very proud of my performance."

Beyonce said the preparations for her 12-minute performance have been going on for the past five months and admitted that the time-squeeze did have an impact on her ability to rehearse for the inauguration.

If she met that issue head on, Beyonce danced around the other attempt to squeeze some news out of what is usually a glitzy promotional event, dancing around questions about the possibility that Destiny's Child will reunite during the halftime show and whether her husband, hip-hop star Jay-Z, will join her onstage.

"I can't really give you any details,'' she said with a coy smile. "I'm sorry."

Most of the particulars about the show remain top secret, but Beyonce did talk about the challenges that come with producing a performance that requires the stage to be built between the time the two teams leave the field after the second quarter and her first song.

"There's 7 ½ minutes for the volunteers to put the stage together," she said, "and it took so many months to just decide what the stage was because some of the things that were in my head just wasn't possible to put together in that amount of time. So, I met the volunteers and they are so incredible. We're all working together and I can't give too much away, but I can say that every little second matters and we're working."

The pregame festivities will feature Alicia Keys singing the National Anthem and appearances by Matchbox 20 and OneRepublic. Jennifer Hudson also will make a special appearance with the Sandy Hook Elementary Choir.

peter.schmuck@baltsun.com

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