Tuesday, October 13, 2009

NASCAR and the National Anthem

Jesse McCartney was the singer of the National Anthem at California's Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday. When I listened to his rendition, I did a double take, because he obviously left out a line. I can see no reason to leave out a line of the anthem for artistic reasons, so I suppose it was probably a mistake on Mr. McCartney's part.

I've touched on this before, but I feel like it's time to bring this up again. Let's do away with celebrities singing the National Anthem in the pre-race ceremonies, and let a local high school band do it.

I'm not singling out Jesse McCartney here, but I've long thought that far too many celebrities do a poor job performing the anthem because (a) they are trying to be creative or artistic with their performance, or (b) they don't know the words, or can't carry a tune.

I'm no expert on high school bands, but I've heard a few. The National Anthem is one song that is regularly played by high school bands, so the tune is not alien to band members.

Personally, I have nothing against celebrities. They have their purposes, such as entertaining people. I do not, however, enjoy listening to someone intentionally mangling the anthem for artistic purposes. I'd rather hear a high school kid play his or her heart out on national TV any day, and if they perform the anthem badly, at least I'll know it's not for lack of trying.

Give the kids a ticket to the race, and maybe infield passes, let them actually meet a few drivers, and who knows? We might just have a few new race fans for life.

In any event, giving kids a chance to perform on national TV, and in front of an audience the likes of which they've never seen before could be the biggest day ever in those kids' lives.

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