Wednesday, May 11, 2005

My First National Anthem

As a singer, one of the most rewarding opportunities I have been given is singing the National Anthem. The first opportunity came when I was 16 years old.

It was Spring of 1987 and the Major Indoor Soccer League was enjoying a successful and exciting season. The call came to me just days before the end of the St. Louis Steamers season. "Are you available to sing the National Anthem this weekend?" Without hesitation, I agreed.

The largest crowd I had ever performed before was a few hundred people. But that May night in 1987, I stepped on the field in front of over 10,000 soccer fans. The lights went down slowly until only two single spotlights remained. One spotlight rested on the American Flag at the south end of the old St. Louis Arena. The second spotlight stopped on me. Then the announcer spoke.

"Ladies and gentlemen, please rise. And gentlemen remove your caps. And join in the singing of our National Anthem."

The fans rustled in their seats for a moment and then... SILENCE.

And then I sang. With my heart pounding and my knees shaking, I proudly sang our National Anthem. And the crowd applauded. And I was hooked.

Since that night, I have sung the anthem over 100 times. And every time is just as special and emotional and rewarding as the first time.

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