Singing the national anthem is actually really weird. When I’m singing it, I don’t think about it. I’m always asked, “Do you worry you’re going to forget the words?” and it’s not really like that. I start the song, and then before I know it, I’m pretty much near the end.

To me, the national anthem has a lot of weight. I feel like everyone expects a lot, so I take it seriously when I sing it. I feel like a lot of people try too much. I know there are veterans in the audience, so I definitely take pride in singing it.

I come from a pretty musical family. My grandpa on my dad’s side sings. My aunt is a trained opera singer; she’s a teacher. My cousin is in school for opera. On my mom’s side, there are some musicians. My grandpa was a piano player. My mom is a piano player and used to act. So, some talent.

I started singing in about sixth grade. My parents forced me to take singing lessons. I was kind of shy about it at first, but those lessons completely brought out my voice. In seventh grade, I sang in a music competition in my local county. I was so against it. My mom and singing coach were like, “You need to do this,” so I did and came in second place. The county park commissioner heard me sing, and he loved my voice. That kind of started my career when he got in touch with me. My first event was a veterans memorial type of event. I got paid to sing, probably like 50 bucks. It was pretty cool.

It's a lot of fun to sing at a game. Everyone's so hyped up and excited. There's so much energy.

After that, I sang the national anthem throughout high school for so many different county events and some awesome concerts: Kansas, Neil Sedaka, Marshall Tucker Band, Leon Petruzzi Jazz Orchestra, Blues Travelers, Eddie Money — I got to meet Eddie Money — KC and the Sunshine Band, a lot of those types of bands, older bands.

KC and the Sunshine Band was probably one of the biggest concerts I sang in front of. It was at a large outdoor amphitheater. There were probably 20,000 people. That was crazy. It was probably 10th or 11th grade.

I don’t think I had my license yet, so I had to get driven by my parents. We got to park in the cool VIP parking spot; I walked backstage, and you actually passed by the entire hill. You just see all of these people, just this mass of people. We had to wait for it to get a certain darkness to start the concert, and then they introduced me. I was waiting backstage. This was when I’d start to get a little nervous. I walked out there, grabbed the mic, and took a deep breath. I take one breath before I start singing.

None of my circle of friends really knew about my singing career.

It’s a lot of fun to sing at a game. Everyone’s so hyped up and excited. There’s so much energy. Walking out on center court is a special moment. Everyone stands up for the national anthem. It’s also a weird moment because I know everyone’s judging me. I know that when you see the national anthem singer, you’re like, “Oh boy, hope he can get through this one.” I always feel like, “Cool. I’m going to be able to show my talent.”

At a Spiders game, the basketball team is lined up right next to me. The opposing team’s always on my left. There’s just so much pride. My dad went to University of Richmond, so he’s a huge Spider fan. Especially now that I’m here, it’s really gotten revamped. He got to hear me sing at a men’s game last year.

None of my circle of friends really knew about my singing career. It just didn’t come up in conversation. When I sang before the men’s game in January, I told them, “You should come check it out.” And they’re like, “Um, OK. This is gonna be bad.” They have no idea, and then I get to come out there and surprise them. Every single time I sing, someone comes up to me and says, “I can’t believe that voice came out of your body.” And I’m like, “Yep. That’s what it is.” I just love surprising people.

My dream would be to sing at a Rangers game at Madison Square Garden right on the ice. I can’t imagine what that would be like, but that’s definitely my dream.

Video by Kevin Heraldo