|Oh, Say Can You See…||11/3/2016
The highlight of my month was singing at San Diego's Qualcomm Stadium mid-October. It was the Thursday night football game on CBS, starring the San Diego Chargers versus the Denver Broncos. What a thrill! Although I've sung the anthem at major league baseball games and NBA games over the years, I had never sung our country's hymns at an NFL game. What made the occasion extra special was having my LA son there. He took the day off from work, made the three-hour train trip and arrived just in time to accompany me and my agent down to the field, joining ranks with his San Diego cousin and a friend. But let me start off with my unsettling sound check earlier that day...
When I started singing, even with my in-ear monitor in place, there was a slap back/echo/delay, unlike anything I had ever experienced before. Just imagine singing a song and hearing every word echo, run on into the next word…the process ceasing only when you stop singing altogether. Aaargh! As a listener in the audience, you wouldn't hear these issues, but for the singer, what a challenge! I felt good about the check though, knowing I just had to concentrate on what I was hearing from my ear monitor and disregard the delayed feedback to my other ear—the one open to the stadium. Somehow, I felt ready for the real thing.
Now back to my son and my nephew. Roughly 45 minutes before kick-off, my agent, the boys and I were escorted down to the field. Talk about busy! Both teams were scrimmaging, and the TV crews and cameramen were running around, setting up the CBS broadcasters, as fans filled up the 62,000 seats. Excitement was brewing and San Diego was hoping for a win. As I waited for my cue, we hung out right next to the San Diego players.
Five minutes before the start of the game, I stepped onto the field, ear monitor in place and microphone in hand. But, as I sang the first bars of “The Star Spangled Banner”, it was clear that my ear monitor was down. Oh, nooooo. And the huge echoes were all there, of course. All I could do was focus on the song and on singing in time, without allowing the delay effect to mess with my head.
My orders were to complete the song in 90 seconds. I had also been warned about planes flying overhead, and fireworks and pyrotechnics accenting certain lyrics, which could be jarring. But I wasn’t the least bit disturbed (the in-ear issue had steeled me!). On the contrary, it was spectacular and sparked more energy! And the Navy men in full dress, holding an American flag the size of the football field and in the shape of the United States, which they “rippled” in the wind as I sang "the banner yet wave", gave me the chills. I got through without a hitch and felt SO proud and honored. An amazing feeling!! My son recorded the scene on his phone. If you like, you can watch it on my YouTube channel or on my Facebook page.
One song down, one more to go. A recent Chargers tradition is to have the anthem vocalist sing "God Bless America" between the third and fourth quarters. I was happy to oblige. And this time, I was outfitted with a pair of in-ears that actually worked! I had no subsequent problems with the echoes and could even hear the fans singing along with me, which was lovely. Afterward, the sound director confided that he had never heard them join in like that before. Pretty cool, huh?
Unfortunately, neither I nor my son could stay for the game: I had my red eye flight to catch and he, his train. But our driver tuned into the game on the radio for us. We cheered as they won and beat the Broncos! The honor was complete!
During the month of October, with Ohio’s gorgeous tapestry of autumn colors as a backdrop, Abe and I rehearsed for our NYE show at Nighttown, Ed and I enjoyed the wedding of a friend's daughter, took in a Turkuaz concert (high energy music, wow!), a lovely dinner at Ed's brother's home, and a few lunches and dinners out.
There was also a special birthday dinner for my sister, Wendy. It has been five months since she lost her husband. We miss Mike every day...
My brother flew in from Charlotte at the end of the month for a reunion weekend of grade school buddies, and stayed with us. We look forward to having him back with his family of five for Thanksgiving.
The same weekend, Wendy's son, daughter-in-law and two beautiful children arrived for an extended stay. We, and above all, Wendy, are over the moon to have them near.
And so it was that I spent the last day of October with a certain three-year-old princess. We trick-or-treated at a few homes, but what she loved best was greeting the costumed kids at the front door and assisting her meme, Wendy, with the hand-outs. Ah, the joy that children bring. Let’s have lots of that…
…And a happy Thanksgiving!