Menzel said singing the anthem before Super Bowl 49 is the culmination of a lifelong dream, one forged on Sundays watching football with her father.
"It's the pinnacle. It's the milestone in my career," Menzel, a Broadway star who's gained widespread popularity, said Thursday.
But Menzel cautioned people not to just pay attention to the song's high notes, which have been a benchmark for singers since Houston's rousing version before Super Bowl 25.
Houston radiated the spirit of the song, Menzel said. "It was Whitney," she said of what made that rendition memorable. "There was just something so beautiful that was coming from her that day."
Menzel said she will sing the song live, so that her rendition captures what she is feeling at the moment.
"It's a beautiful melody, and I just want the humanity and the truth to come out," she said.
Menzel, who's become a superstar after singing and voice acting in the Disney film "Frozen," said she doesn't expect to be more nervous about her upcoming performance than she is singing before a Broadway audience.
"I love to sing, I love to perform live," she said. "I love to put myself out there and make myself vulnerable."
She became famous for appearing in both the stage and film versions of "Rent," and has since appeared in films and performed at last year's Academy Awards.
Menzel infused her press conference Thursday with details about her relationship with football.
"I grew up watching football every Sunday with my dad," she said. Despite that, she couldn't easily pick a favourite team.
"I'm a daughter of a betting man and whoever covered the spread was who I was going to root for," Menzel joked.
She knows she'll be pulling for the Seattle Seahawks, though.
"I'm rooting for Seattle because I'm a New Yorker and I cannot in good faith root for the Patriots," she said.
Anthony McCartney can be reached at http://twitter.com/mccartneyAPSuggest a correction