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Westchester Teacher Performs At Super Bowl

Alex Smith plays the piano for Lady Gaga's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.
Alex Smith plays the piano for Lady Gaga's rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. Video Credit: YouTube

PEEKSKILL, N.Y. -- It was a Super Sunday for Peekskill resident Alex Smith.

Smith, who lives in Peekskill and teaches music at Soundview Prep in Yorktown, was Lady Gaga's pianist when she sang the Star Spangled Banner at Super Bowl 50 on Sunday.

The pianist has been working with Lady Gaga since 2011, being in a band with Brian Newman, who is friends with Gaga. He performed on her Thanksgiving special and performed on her album and tour she did with Tony Bennett.

Smith only found out a few weeks before the big game he'd be performing the national anthem.

"I was very excited, very thrilled," Smith said. "It was almost overwhelming to perform on such a big stage."

Performing in front of 76, 125 fans and hundreds of millions watching around the world can be overwhelming but Smith said he tried not to think about the number of eyeballs on him.

"I've played for big crowds before," Smith, who has performed at the Hollywood Bowl and New Orleans Jazz Festival said. "They give you a lot of energy. I got a real lift from the crowd."

The arrangement of the Star Spangled Banner is not a difficult one, Smith said, and it was more about making sure his timing with Lady Gaga was correct.

"I practiced it numerous times that week," Smith said.

The actual performance went off without a hitch. Smith said seeing the flyover was a phenomenal experience.

"It is something you never think about," Smith said. "It's right in the climactic part of the song. It is a very emotionally powerful experience. It feels like you scored a big goal in a sporting event."

Smith said he was not able to watch the game as he had a redeye back home. He said the positive reviews of the performance for Lady Gaga were gratifying.

"I knew she was going to nail it," Smith said. "She did such an amazing job. I'm glad she got the recognition. She's wonderful to work with."

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