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  • Ashley Wineland

Unforgettable National Anthem Performance: Ashley Wineland Shares Her Story with Arizona Cardinals

Between Me & You, I never expected this National Anthem performance to go as it did.

The morning of August 30, 2018 appeared to start off as any regular morning. I got up, got myself ready, and did my typical rituals. However, that day held a little extra sparkle: I was going to be performing the National Anthem for the Cardinals vs. Broncos pre-season game!

About this time, I had done approximately two or so anthems with the Cardinals organization. I knew what to expect down to the T: we would meet our point of contact, go through security, head down to soundcheck, and then wait until it was showtime for the performance. Everything played out just as I had anticipated... until we made it to soundcheck.

Down on the field, overlooking the 63,400-seat stadium, I held my microphone and ran through the procedure. I sang, made sure I could hear myself in my monitor system, and we timed my anthem to make sure it was in bounds for their tight TV schedule (I always aim for a minute and twenty seconds, we make it every time!). All was in place and it was time to wait.

An on the field shot from the Red-Zone overlooking the empty State Farm Stadium
A view of State Farm Stadium during soundcheck

Before I could walk off the field, the amazing entertainment director for the Arizona Cardinals, Tim Beach, met with me to run me through the events of the day. This debrief is usually the same every time, but we had a special circumstance. Tim informed me at this moment that for the first time in over a year, the NFL was going to air the National Anthem during the game's broadcast on national television. The stakes continued to rise from there. He also informed me that, prior to the Anthem, a commemoration video to honor the late senator, John McCain who had recently passed five days prior, would broadcast along with the programming. I was stunned.

This would be my first televised National Anthem performance and it was to be featured alongside a very emotional and powerful tribute! The pressure was on. I waited for another 2 hours after that in eager anticipation for this moment. Thankfully with good breathing techniques and a lack of food in my stomach, I kept my cool.

Walking up on stage, I braced myself for the moment. Those 63,400 seats that were empty before now burst into bright reds and blacks of Cardinals fans. If you think about it for too long, it is a sight that will truly steal your breath away! However, there was no time for that. Deep breath in and the Anthem was off. By the end, the roar was so loud and the touching energy of the memorial to Senator McCain hit every heart there, I couldn't help but be influenced by the energy in the stadium and I walked off the stage feeling as though I was floating. It was a moment I will truly honor forever.

The best part of it all was getting flooded with messages and pictures from friends and family of the performance on their TVs and in the stadium. It is always a treasure to see how the National Anthem can bring and move everyone together!

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