7 ASL Interpretations of The Star-Spangled Banner
by: Brooke LaTurno EIPA 3.8 – Interpreter Coordinator
When I was studying to become an interpreter, my classmates and I were regularly warned about the unpredictable nature of our chosen field. Our professors did everything they could to prepare us for the real world, where we would prove ourselves after graduation. They assigned readings, had us roleplay various scenarios, and gave us hands-on practice opportunities. My peers and I stayed the course, undeterred. Maybe we thrived on the uncertainty of never knowing exactly what to expect.
Imagine my surprise when one day in class we learned about frozen register and were asked to study the scripts of various frozen texts that we were more than likely to interpret during our careers. This meant that there would actually be instances when we would know exactly what the message was going to be ahead of time, and could study the language before even walking in to the assignment - a rare instance of predictability! Some of the texts that we studied in class that day were: the Miranda warning, the Pledge of Allegiance, the Serenity Prayer, and "The Star-Spangled Banner."
After all of our in-the-moment practice sessions, it was a refreshing change of pace to sit down with a frozen text and spend time analyzing various ways the English words could be interpreted into ASL. While our interpretations were ultimately our own to create, as a student it was more than a little daunting to imagine myself in the position of interpreting any of those notable scripts. In order to get past the nerves, it was helpful to study other experienced signers to see how they approached working with frozen texts.
I am grateful to my professor for introducing me to the study of these significant texts, and still enjoy learning about how different signers bring frozen text to life in ASL. To that end, I was recently inspired to find Super Bowl recordings of Deaf individuals performing ASL interpretations of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Fortunately there were several available online, highlighting some powerful renditions of the song.
Below are video recordings from five incredible Super Bowl performances:
John Maucere – Super Bowl XLVII in 2013
Christine Sun Kim – Super Bowl LIV in 2020
Warren "Wawa" Snipe – Super Bowl LV in 2021
During my search I also found some renditions that were not performed at the Super Bowl, but that are nonetheless rich examples of the national anthem interpreted into ASL from Rosa Lee and Candace Jones.
I hope that studying those remarkable performances serves as inspiration in your own work. Please comment below if you have a favorite interpretation of another frozen text – we would love to see them!
NADvlogs. (2013, March 5). Watch NAD: John Maucere Signs National Anthem [Video]. YouTube
Treshelle Edmond. (2015, February 3). Treshelle Edmond Super Bowl 2015 National Anthem with John Legend & Idina Menzel [Video]. YouTube
BennettASL. (2017, February 5). Super Bowl 2017 National Anthem in ASL [Video]. YouTube
NADvlogs. (2020, February 3). Christine Sun Kim Performs the National Anthem / Super Bowl LIV [Video]. YouTube.
NADvlogs. (2021, February 7). National Anthem in ASL at Super Bowl LV [Video]. YouTube.
Statewide Outreach Center Videos. (2018, July 10). Star-Spangled Banner sung by Aretha Franklin and ASL by Rosa Lee [Video]. YouTube.
AASD Accessible Materials Project. (2018, November 12). The Star-spangled Banner in ASL 2018 [Video]. YouTube.