Performing the national anthem at a sporting event is a milestone for any singer. It's equal parts exciting, terrifying and patriotic all at the same time. Over the course of history, many people have tried, and failed, to deliver a stirring rendition of the national anthem. If the crowd is kind, though, they'll often forgive someone whose version wasn't great as long as their heart was in it. This is especially true for the adorable kid who fought through hiccups to sing the Australian national anthem. C'mon, who could be upset with a performance like that?
But what makes the national anthem, specifically the U.S. national anthem, so hard to sing? Vocal experts attribute it to the wide range that it requires from the singer. Kenneth Slowik, director of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society, says that "It's a very wide range. Basically, the notes are very high." For this reason, singers spend a lot of time preparing for a big performance of the song that means so much to their fellow countrymen and women.
Carlton Smith, a singer and police officer at West Virginia University, didn't have much time to prepare for his performance of the "Star-Spangled Banner" at a recent basketball game. Heavy snowfall prevented a lot of people from reaching the Coliseum that night, including the person who was booked to sing the national anthem. With only a moment's notice, Smith stepped up and gave the crowd a version of the classic song that they won't soon forget.