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Curb’s Harper Grace puts artists’ national anthem tension center stage – Billboard

In 2011, an 11-year-old girl sang the national anthem in Dallas that was so bad, her family received death threats.

That’s right — death threats to a kid and his family over a bad singing performance.

that kid is 21 now harper grace, who used his traumatic experience as fuel for his creative fire, signing to Curb Records and embarking on a national anthem redemption tour in which he sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” for a series of sporting events. In a new track titled “Oh Say Can You See”, released to digital service providers on May 19, Grace addresses the humiliation from her performance of the anthem and its bounce-back.

Grace says, “It’s like an autobiography of what I went through as a child, as well as a story of encouragement to my younger self and the listener.”

In an ideal world, the national anthem would have a positive immediate effect on the people who sing it. lean rims And girls nurtured his career with several anthem performances at Texas Rangers baseball games, Gabby Barrett earned whoops and hollers from programmers at the 2020 Country Radio Seminar, and chris stapleton — after initially being treated with skepticism by some anti-country consumers — delivered one of the best versions of “Banner” at this year’s Super Bowl.

But this song has brought its share of pain. luke bryan When he sang it at a Major League Baseball All-Star Game, he was ridiculed for writing the song on his hand. Lauren Elena Had to pause for five seconds and calm down again when she sang at the Detroit Lions Thanksgiving Day game. And Eli Young Band‘S Mike Alley When technical problems interfered with the performance of the national anthem at Arrowhead Stadium in 2010, he was branded a traitor on Twitter and had to start over.

“I got a lot of heat for it,” he recalled in 2011. “But I got through it and lived to sing another day, and another anthem.”

Some artists routinely turn down opportunities to “banner”, but others – such as the oak ridge boys, Joe Nichols And darius rucker – seem to enjoy it, as it allows them to attend sporting events with VIP accommodation. But the anthem can bring on an enormous amount of pressure, and it’s easy to let it dissipate as the crowd calms down and focuses on the performance, which holds a lot of personal significance for people as they stand with their hands over their hearts. .

“I’m most nervous about singing any song,” says Scotty McCreery, “I am not too nervous for a lot of things, but you want to respect your country and do justice to the song. As a singer, we are thinking of words, we are thinking of melody and all kinds of things. have been

Grace’s experience was horrifying. She performed at a Dallas soccer game, but despite her young age, she did not receive any rehearsals. No one warned him about the excessive resonance at the ballpark; No one told him that the audience had its own distracting, noisy ritual; And he made little starts with the pitch, struggling throughout the performance. She hesitated again and again, which made the experience longer. The game aired nationally on TV, and she went viral with the video that inspired her worst anthem ever. It was brutal at school.

“I was pushed into lockers; Kids threw deodorant sticks and hair spray cans at me,” she says. “I used to get prank calls on my phone singing the national anthem, knives with fake blood in our private mailboxes at home, and death threats and people telling me and my family how they were going to rape and kill me Are. My face was pasted over newspapers in Belgium and China with languages ​​I couldn’t even read.”

Despite all the negativity, she was determined to use her nightmare as a motivation to conquer her fear, and she slowly fought back, developing her vocal craft and competing on pressure-filled American Idol before moving to Nashville and getting his recording contract. “Oh Say Can You See” documents his emotional journey and serves as an encouragement to anyone fighting to earn respect.

In the lead up to the song’s release, she’s performed the anthem in several venues, including San Diego, Nashville, and St. Louis — and has seen some of her fears go away.

“It made me realize I’m stronger than the whole experience,” says Grace, “but it’s constantly me learning more bravery and courage as I face the thing that scares me the most, which is singing.” .

As if “The Star-Spangled Banner” wasn’t challenging enough already, the song can be considered as a competition piece. Nichols recalls singing “God Bless America” ​​at an All-Star game Idina Menzel did a heavily produced version of the song. He was singing “America” ​​a cappella, and criticized him for the extroverted approach, though he maintains that simple is the best approach.

“It’s terrible, but the way I look at Anthem and ‘God Bless America,’ I don’t like a lot of ‘I’ moments,” he says. “To me, that kind of distracts from the song a little bit, and makes it about you — you know, ‘Test me, how can I sing every possible note in a 1-minute, 15-second song. ‘” It seems that a little soul comes out of it.

Breland, track45 And britney spencer Everyone delivered their own versions of the anthem this year, and there will be multiple performances during CMA Fest in June. The “Banner” is associated with the nation’s history, and each American has their own history with the song. Grace hopes to recover from him.

“I’m still facing the giant,” she says, “and trying to kill it every single day that I open my mouth to sing the song that represents America.”

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