A Hudson Valley music teacher accompanied Lady Gaga on piano while she sang the National Anthem prior to kickoff of Super Bowl 50 at Levi’s Stadium in California.

“It’s right up there as one of the greatest experiences of my career,” Alex Smith told Hudson Valley Post. Smith lives in Peekskill and teaches at the Yorktown Heights’ Soundview Preparatory School. “The kids love it. They want to know the details about Lady Gaga.”

Smith says he fed off the energy of the crowd and the knowledge that nearly 120 million viewers were watching on T.V. “You get really pumped up knowing you have that many people to play for,” he said. “What was different, you’ll usually don’t perform and have a jets flying over at a precise moment!”

Smith has played the National Anthem many times prior to the Super Bowl. But knowing he was going to perform on such a grand stage, to calm his nerves, he took to the motto practice makes perfect.

The day before the big game, Smith was in his hotel room and practiced the song over 70 times. He says he played the song in a number of different ways, including twice the speed and blindfolded. By the time his moment came, “it was muscle memory,” he said.”

Super Bowl 50 - Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images


Smith met Gaga through his SUNY Purchase college friend Brian Newman. Newman is a singer and trumpet player who knew Gaga before she became famous. Newman and Smith have been performing together in New York City for over 10 years. Gaga would occasionally come in and play jazz tunes with them.

“She asked us to do a couple of numbers on her Thanksgiving special in 2011,” Smith said. After that, Smith was asked to accompany Gaga and Tony Bennet on their album, “Cheek to Cheek.” He toured with both this summer.

“It’s been a whirlwind sort of a year for me,” he said.


Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images