Girl who famously butchered national anthem as a kid is now a grown-up pop star who will sing it at Guardians –

Singer-songwriter Harper Grace will perform the national anthem at the Cardinals vs. Guardians game on Friday, May 26. Grace was the infamous "anthem girl" who sang an off-key rendition a decade ago.The Gulko Group
CLEVELAND, Ohio – On Friday, The Guardians will ideally defeat the St. Louis Cardinals. But before the game singer-songwriter Harper Grace will sing the national anthem.
Here in 2023, if you Google “anthem girl” you’ll get a few different young women and girls singing the anthem with varying degrees of success. But a decade ago the first result was likely then 11-year-old Harper Grace, who performed an unfortunately, cringe-inducing version at a professional soccer game in her native Texas.
Young Grace started the song on the wrong note, immediately realized her mistake and it went quickly downhill from there, though she kept on keeping on until the bitter, melodically wavering end. Such an awful experience would be enough to permanently rattle any performer, young or old if it had just stayed in front of the 20,000-plus people in the stadium. But the video went viral and soon much of the Western world was piling on a little girl for making a mistake.
‘It’s a hard song. If you don’t start on the right note, then you’re kind of screwed in a sense that you don’t want to stop and start over,” Grace said from Detroit, where she was supporting her partner, a special teams player for the Philadelphia Soul of the USFL.
“That’s what happened the first time I sang it. You know, I didn’t want to stop and start over new I started wrong and kind of gave my mom a little look,” she said.
Now a 21-year-old Nashville-based singer-songwriter Harper Grace has a new single “Oh Say Can You See,” that details the traumatic aftermath of being the “Anthem Girl.”
“So that whole song is so special to me. Not only does it tell exactly what I went through, but it actually doesn’t even go into the deepest darkest parts of that story,” Grace said.
“But ‘Oh Say Can You See’ is one of the songs that is 100% true. Everything you’re hearing in that song, I went through. But it doesn’t even tell the crazy dark, horrible parts of it which go with me receiving knives with fake blood in our mailbox at home. People telling me how they’re going to murder and rape me and kill me and that I should kill myself. So, it got really scary, really dark and I was just 11 years old,” Grace said.
Her classmates at school weren’t much better than the adults.
So, it was really, really traumatic. I sat in the bathroom by myself. I got deodorant and hairspray cans thrown at me in the hallways. I had prank calls of girls singing the anthem to me on the phone. And, anything you could possibly think of when you think of bullying, whether that’s cyber, physical, emotional, all of it. I can probably confidently say that I’ve been through every single bit.”
Grace overcame the initial trauma, continued singing and auditioned and became a Top 50 contestant on season 16 of “American Idol.” As a professional, Grace has also toured with rapper Nelly and opened for singer Sara Evans and will be opening for Martina McBride and Ingrid Andress one of her songwriting heroes.
Now signed to Curb Record, she is managed by the Jonas Brothers’ Jonas Entertainment Group. She is marking the traumatic anthem event with a “redemption tour” that has taken her to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at 10 sporting events so far, including the upcoming Guardians game. As she’s traveled from town to town, Grace has also been going to local schools to talk to young people about bullying, surviving trauma and perseverance.
“It’s just been a really sweet process to get over one of my biggest fears, which is trying to get over the PTSD that the anthem added as a traumatic experience,” Grace said.
“It’s been so beautiful to continue to do that. And honestly, it’s allowed me to learn how to have more courage and bravery. I’m getting the opportunity to share that with people, as well to encourage them. Even though my story can sound really inspiring and all of these things, but I’m still human and I still get scared and nervous for the anthem. But it’s been so, so fun. So, I’m excited to come this weekend. I think it’s going to be great!” she said.
“Oh Say Can You See” is Grace’s second single of 2023 beginning with the bouncy country-pop tune “Sparkle.”
Despite a decade of healing, performing in front of thousands of people, Grace still finds performing the anthem a nerve-wracking experience, and she can instantly be taken back to being thatnervous 11-year-old girl struggling through the song.
On the New York stop of her redemption tour — with writers from Rolling Stone, People Magazine and others in attendance — Grace found herself having a flashback.
“It was this really big event,” she says. “All these different people coming out to the suite to come and watch and we didn’t get a sound check that day and we just had a line check. So it was a lot of like thrown-off stuff that didn’t normally happen in my process,” she said.
“It really was a shocker to me and my mom’s there with me and I just start bawling. I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, what if it happens all over again?’ This is the same thing. We didn’t get a sound check, this looks like the same setup as when I was 11. And so it slowly gets easier, but it still has the PTSD (moments) for sure,” she said.
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