One Shining Moment explained: Lyrics, artist, writer, history of March Madness song

The annual One Shining Moment song is a beloved tradition during March Madness, but history shares that the song was originally meant for another sporting event.

NCAA Men's Final Four - Villanova v North Carolina
NCAA Men's Final Four - Villanova v North Carolina / Mitchell Layton/GettyImages

At the culmination of March Madness, a time-honored tradition in the realm of sports takes center stage: "One Shining Moment," a melodic emblem of victory.

For more than three decades, this song has echoed through the conclusion of the National Championship game, marking a cherished ritual. However, its inception was not for basketball, but rather for the Super Bowl. How it transitioned from the gridiron to the hardwood is a fascinating story.

The song was written in March 1986 by David Barrett, a singer-songwriter from Ann Arbor, Mich. The first time it was played was 35 years ago, but there was a point where this song might have never been sung or shown.

One Shining Moment history: How the song became a March Madness fixture

Following the composition of the song, Barrett produced a demo of "One Shining Moment" and dispatched the recording to Sports Illustrated. Subsequently, the song made its way to CBS, where a CBS Sports executive was smitten with the tune.

With Barrett's consent, the song was slated for airing at the conclusion of Super Bowl 21 in 1987. However, due to scheduling constraints during the broadcast, the song remained unheard, prompting CBS to seek Barrett's permission once more to debut "One Shining Moment," this time following the 1987 National Championship in men's college basketball.

Upon its release, the song featured tournament highlights, culminating with Indiana's triumph in the national championship. The song generated an overwhelming number of positive responses and has been a fixture at the end of the tournament ever since.

Who sings One Shining moment?

The one credited with most famously performing this illustrious song? Luther Vandross.

Others have sung the song before, including Jennifer Hudson, Barrett himself, Ne-Yo, and Teddy Pendergrass. But Vandross' version has remained the tune of March Madness for several years and is still going strong.

When the 2024 champion is crowned in Phoenix, the fans will wait for the trophy presentation, and then turn their attention to "One Shining Moment", hoping it provides the glory, warmth, and elegance it has had since it was first brought into the lives of college basketball fans and its stars.

One Shining Moment Lyrics

The ball is tipped
And there you are
You're running for your life
You're a shooting star
And all the years
No one knows
Just how hard you worked
But now it shows...
In One Shining Moment, it's all on the line
In One Shining Moment, they're frozen in time

But time is short
And the road is long
In the blinking of an eye
That moment's gone
And when it's done
Win or lose
You always did your best
Cause inside you knew...
That in One Shining Moment, you reached deep inside
One Shining Moment, you knew you were alive

Feel the beat of your heart
Feel the wind in your face
It's more than a contest
It's more than a race...

And when it's done
Win or lose
You always did your best
Cause inside you knew...
In One Shining Moment, you reached for the sky
In One Shining Moment, you knew…
In One Shining Moment, you were willing to try
In One Shining Moment, you knew
One Shining Moment

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