Get an inside look at the national anthem audition process, preparation and performance from Kings Season Ticket Holders Norm and Nancy Daley.
As longtime Kings Season Ticket Holders, Nancy and I have seen many performances of “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Sleep Train Arena.
Considering we’re both classically trained singers and I’ve also jammed in garage bands, I’d always felt I could do a great rendition of the national anthem. Despite never having the opportunity to sing in front of more than a few hundred people, in September, I finally decided to attend open auditions in hopes of claiming one of ten spots to perform at a Kings game during the 2012-13 season.
A few days after stepping onto the court to croon the anthem for the judges, I found out I’d been selected to sing at an upcoming contest, and chose Dec. 7 at my date.
Waiting was by far the most difficult part of the process, but many of our fellow Kings Season Ticket Holders and fans helped the time pass quicker. Mr. Sign Lady, for instance, offered to make cue cards, but said they’d be out of order to make it more fun for him!
When the big day finally came, Nancy and I arrived at Sleep Train Arena around 4:15 p.m. – 15 minutes before I was scheduled for sound check. It was interesting see all the behind-the-scenes activities, as the entertainment department ran though everything that would occur during the Kings-Magic game, while players from both teams were already warming up on the court.
During final preparations, I was instructed on how to enter the court, where to stand and look, and how to ultimately exit. It was definitely a lot to memorize! Not to mention, I was trying to remember all the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner” – in the correct order. At that point, my biggest fear was singing the wrong lyrics.
After sound check, we relaxed in Kings Row 1, watching players work out with assistant coaches, until the VIP Lounge opened. I didn’t know much about the VIP experience beforehand, but we ended up getting a backstage tour of the arena and a nice dinner prior to tip-off.
And then, before I knew it, my time to sing had come.
Five minutes before I stepped out on the hardwood, I experienced an adrenaline surge like never before. I hadn’t felt nervous over the prior two-and-a-half months, but suddenly, my hands were shaking and my heart felt as if it was going to jump out of my chest.
I tried my best to not think of the 16,000-plus fans attending the game or the Pearl Harbor Day activities at the arena, focusing instead on my routine and relying on my training.
It didn’t hit me I was singing in front of an enormous crowd until I was halfway through the second verse, when I snapped out of my daze. As I listened to my voice over the P.A. system, I realized the adrenaline caused me to start singing in a higher key than the one I’d used in sound check. I decided I had the range to still hit the high notes, so I relaxed and enjoyed the moment.
As I belted out the final words, all I could hear was an arena full of people cheering for my performance. At that moment, I realized why old rock stars still go on tour – the sound of a roaring crowd is an amazing phenomenon. I’m counting my anthem rendition as my first arena show, and I look forward to auditioning again next season. I’d highly recommend trying out to anyone with vocal training.
The entertainment and game-day staff at Sleep Train Arena are the best, and I’d like to thank Scott Freshour, Scott Moak, Tom Vannucci and Victor Alaniz for my unforgettable experience.