“Oh, say” Can She Sing the National Anthem

  • 2010 alumna performs at Homecoming 2019

    Thursday, February 28, 2019
    2010 alumna Chanda Brown-Wilson

    Basketball fans who were in their Hytche Athletic Center seats early to take in the 2019 homecoming games Feb. 16 against Coppin State were treated to a rare, live performance of the national anthem. 

    Chanda Brown-Wilson, UMES class of 2010, sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” a cappella, creating an instant buzz among fellow alums and adding to her growing resumé of public performances of the tricky song. 

    A year ago, Brown-Wilson answered an open audition call by the Washington Nationals baseball team, which gives polished local singers a chance to perform the pre-game tradition. 

    She impressed the judges and earned the chance to appear on the field at an early season game April 9, a performance that boosted her confidence to pursue singing professionally. 

    With support and guidance from friend Kris Hicks, who posted a recording of the 2018 baseball game performance on social media, Brown-Wilson has since done encores at other public events, including D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's inauguration and the National Park Service's 2018 Juneteenth celebration on Theodore Roosevelt Island. 

    “Those were all pretty exciting opportunities,” Brown-Wilson said. 

    How does being invited to sing for a UMES homecoming rank? 

    “Pretty high. I'm excited,” she said before rehearsal.  “I've always been someone who enjoyed singing along at sporting events,” especially at UMES volleyball matches when she was an undergraduate majoring in math. 

    Brown-Wilson, who lives in Clinton, Md., delivered a flawless rendition at homecoming, drawing a robust round of applause from an appreciative audience. 

    Singing has been a part of her life since her youth; she attended Suitland (Md.) High School because it had a performing arts magnet program with voice training and continued singing while a UMES student under the tutelage of Dr. Sheila Harleston. 

    “She was very nurturing, and concerned for each student,” Brown-Wilson said of Harleston.  “She took the time to explain the content of the music, which I really appreciate.” 

    Brown-Wilson, who has worked in business development and is a praise and worship leader at the historic Metropolitan Baptist Church in Largo, Md., describes her national anthem singing style as a mix of gospel and inspirational.  The goal is to deliver it in about two minutes … “give or take.” 

    “It's not as easy as it may sound,” she said. “I want to be known for producing quality work.” 

    UMES alumni at Homecoming 2019 would say she delivered.


     Photo by Joey Gardner