You never think about how bright the lights are at a sporting event. Not the ones where you’re sitting up in the stands but the ones pointing at the field/court/rink/whatever. It’s all lit up so you can see what’s going on and, if there’s a camera or two, it’s probably even more so. Heck, we paid for a show so let’s see it in all its glory!

You DO think about it when those lights are shining on your head, however. It’s a bit unexpected.

Flash back a couple weeks to our foray into the world of the Harlem Globetrotters as the singers of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Hawaiʻi Ponoʻī” (for you out-of-towners, that’s the state anthem and a really lovely piece of music). We rehearsed like we always do and all was prepared and memorized but there was a sense of “different” to the whole thing. Not in a bad way, mind you, but worth exploring for a minute.

(Interesting start: our “staging” space outside the arena was a wind tunnel. We all had our hair re-arranged to that wild-and-free look before we strode inside and everyone appeared just slightly taller than they’d been before. It was kinda funny.)

There are several of us who’ve had the honor and opportunity to sing the national anthem at a variety of events. It’s a very nerve-wracking thing to do as a soloist because 1) the song is HARD and 2) there’s an intensity to having every bit of attention focussed on lonely little you that is mighty darn scary. Seriously. The first time I sang that piece was more terrifying than having the lead in a musical.

Singing the anthem with a group was a completely new and awesome experience. There’s still that buzz of adrenaline but it’s not panicky, it’s a warm glow. You’re with your friends, you know your stuff and you’re doing something that’s important. You walk out differently to sing the anthem. Your back is just a little straighter, your chin is just a little higher, your focus is just a little more laser-like. The aforementioned lights have the unique effect of making everything that’s NOT in their glow just a gray blob. It was really strange not to be able to see the audience at all; it was just us, the Boy Scout Color Gaurd and a bunch of REALLY tall athletes.

A nice side effect was the ability to focus on Susie since she was one of the few things we could see. The lighting made every edge sharp, an effect that’s always enhanced by the little rush of adrenaline, and the concentration on the task at hand was something you could really feel. I was proud to be part of it on so many different levels (but, as usual, my voice cracked a little when the lump snuck into my throat at the rockets’ red glare…always does). And then it was done. Shortest concert ever. Two thumbs up, if you ever have a chance to do it, take it.

We’ll be performing these pieces again as part of a Veteran’s Day gathering that will also be a celebration of the 100th anniversary of WWI. I suspect that will be a completely different kind of…well…different. I’m looking forward to it!

News flash! I was listening to Dan Forrest’s “Reqiuem For the Living” again HERE and realized that this version was on his YouTube channel (along with a pile of other good stuff). Reading the comments was interesting as he answered many questions personally. Very cool.