Students attending the Kentucky All-State Choir leave their Hyatt Hotel rooms a little before 11 pm each night during the Kentucky Music Educators Association conference, and stand on the 18 inside surrounding balconies and sing the National Anthem. They begin with those on the bottom floor. Someone begins humming in the key of E, which is where the song begins and then a beautiful rendition begins, with those above joining-in. Close to 1,000 student participate in the singing of the Star-Spangled Banner, along with any hotel guests who want to join-in. The choir members make-up three different state choirs, boys, girls, and a third, I guess a combined choir, not sure. The choirs from across the state compete during the week. In the video, you’ll hear a slower version than usual. I just heard a young choir member on Fox say the accoustics inside the hotel are great and that a reverb lingers awhile — which I’m assuming is the reason for the slower pace. Beautiful.
Some history behind the Star Spangled Banner begins at Fort McHenry, Maryland with Francis Scott Key aboard an anchored ship at the breaking of day in the summer of 1813. No wonder Key wrote of a “star-spangled” banner – each star measured two feet across:
…the commander, Maj. George Armistead, asked for a flag so big that “the British would have no trouble seeing it from a distance.” Two officers, a Commodore and a General, were sent to the Baltimore home of Mary Young Pickersgill, a “maker of colours,” and commissioned the flag. Mary and her thirteen year old daughter Caroline, working in an upstairs front bedroom, used 400 yeards of best quality woold bunting. They cut 15 stars that measured two feet from point to point. Eight red and seven white stripes, each two feet wide, were cut. Laying out the material on the malthouse floor of Claggett’s Brewery, a neighborhood establishment, the flag was sewn together….It measured 30 by 42 feet and cost $405.90.
At 7 a.m. in the morning of September 13, 1814, the British bombardment began, and the flag was ready to meet the enemy. The bombardment continued for 25 hours….The Americans had sunk 22 vessels so a close approach by the British was no possible. That evening the connonading stopped, but at about 1 a.m. on the 14th, the British fleet roared to life, lighting the rainy night sky with grotesque fireworks.
At dawn, Key anxiously peers into the distance to see if the flag still waves, proving the battle for God and country has not been lost. And indeed it was waving. Could there be more poignant words to describe our flag than “a star-spangled banner?”He sees her broad stripes and bright stars, still waving over a perilous battle.At twilight, the bombs are still raining down, the glare of the bursts again show proof that the symbol of freedom, the Star Spangled Banner, is still waving over the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave.