If you were one of the estimated 167 million viewers watching last Sunday’s Super Bowl 50, then you caught two CCM graduates in action!

For her buzzed-about rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” pop singer/songwriter Lady Gaga was joined on piano by CCM alumnus Alex Smith (BM Jazz Studies, 2001).

CCM alumna Lindsey Grebeldinger-Stewart (MM Voice, 2013) was also featured in the pre-game performances, singing “America the Beautiful” as an alto vocalist with the United States Armed Forces Chorus.

USA Today caught up with Smith after his well-received performance and reported on how the pianist and Soundview Preparatory School music teacher prepared for the most-viewed performance of his career.

“Some of my experience with Gaga had primed me a little bit,” Smith explained to reporter Kevin Phelan. “Doing a nationally broadcast television show with her; that was really nerve wracking for me at the time. And getting to play with Tony Bennett was a huge honor and thrill and was also something that created sort of a nerve-wracking experience for me in terms of wanting to do well for someone who’s such a legend… those moments really provided good practice for something like this.”

As previously reported, Smith is a member of the Brian Newman Quintet, which also includes CCM alumni Brian Newman (CCM, 1999-2003), saxophonist Steve Kortyka (BM Jazz, 2004) and bassist Scott Ritchie (BM, 2003). Newman knew Lady Gaga “before she was famous” and his Quintet first performed with her on the 2011 ABC Holiday Special A Very Gaga Thanksgiving, before playing on Gaga’s duet album with Tony Bennett, Cheek to CheekThe quintet also toured North America and Europe with the duo this past summer.

You can read USA Today‘s profile of Alex Smith here.

You can read Billboard‘s report on the Armed Forces Chorus’ rendition of “America the Beautiful” here.

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