Hopeful Suns singers step up to the plate

April 02, 2011|By DON AINES |
  • Hearts in Harmony, from left, Dawn Hardison, Sherry Hansford, Pat Fogle and Gayle McGowan, sing Saturday at the Hagerstown Suns' National Anthem tryouts at Municipal Stadium.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Despite leaden skies and periodic precipitation, there was no rainout Saturday of the Hagerstown Suns’ National Anthem tryouts at Municipal Stadium.

The Suns were looking to fill out the roster for singers of “The Star-Spangled Banner” for 70 home dates this season, said Rechelle Bischoff, the team’s director of marketing and entertainment.

“We would like to have a different person for each game,” Bischoff said, but by the end of the three-hour event, 34 people had auditioned, some perhaps believing the event would be postponed due to weather.

That could mean a few of the vocalists could be called back for repeat performances, Bischoff said.

Hearts in Harmony, a female barbershop quartet from Martinsburg, W.Va., showed some veteran teamwork. Lead Sherry Hansford, baritone Gayle McGowan, bass Pat Fogle and tenor Dawn Hardison hit all the right notes in their turn at the microphone.

“I did this last year and I decided it’s always a nice experience to get out and sing,” said Merrick Jensen, 18, a senior at Barbara Ingram School for the Arts in Hagerstown, where she studies musical theater.

On deck was another Barbara Ingram student, junior Nichole Lambert.

“I’m doing it for the experience. I’ve never done it before,” the 17-year-old said.

The Frederick Keys were holding tryouts the same morning and 19-year-old Kelsea Rohr rushed from Frederick back to Hagerstown for a second audition.

“I’ve done this the last couple of years and it’s a blast,” the Hagerstown Community College student said.

Brittney Allen, 18, said she has sung the anthem many times before games at South Hagerstown High School, where she is a senior. Because it is a difficult piece, it is a good test of a singer’s range, she said.

Danny Grove, the public address announcer at the stadium, said he would be willing to pinch-hit on anthem duty and took a turn at the microphone.

There were a few broken notes here and there, and a Christina Aguilera Super Bowl moment or two with lyrics, but most of the singers handled the words and tune deftly.

Hearts in Harmony made the cut and will be back Tuesday to sing at an exhibition game, said Paige Tanner, who works in sales and marketing with the Suns.

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