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Crooners try for gig at Coolray

Photo by Nate McCullough

Photo by Nate McCullough

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Roger Brown arrived at Coolray Field about 4 a.m. Saturday.

The Buford resident wasn't trying to buy tickets for an upcoming Gwinnett Braves game or win a prize. His daughter, Heather, wanted to audition to sing the national anthem at a game, and he was checking to see if a line had started to form.

"I came to make sure she got a chance to try, because she wanted to try," Brown said.

Heather, a student at Mountain View High School, was the fourth person to sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Gwinnett Braves' national anthem auditions. She arrived at the stadium about 7:30 a.m.

"I have (sung the national anthem) a lot at school, but I think it would be cooler to do it in a bigger venue," said Heather, who is in the chorus at school. "I kind of choked up at the beginning, but at the end I got better."

About 60 singers of all ages -- from elementary students to retirees -- braved the microphone to prove to two judges that they had the vocal talent for the job.

Mitch Rood, the Gwinnett Braves game operations manager, said they were looking for singers with a consistent delivery and an appropriate strength of voice. Furthermore, they were seeking singers who would keep the song patriotic and about the country, instead of personalizing it too much and making it about themselves.

"It's very important, obviously, that they know the lyrics," Rood said.

The judging wasn't as harsh, however, as it can be on "American Idol." When one auditioner got ruffled, the judges allowed her to step aside and gather her composure before trying again.

"We understand that going out there is a little nerve wracking, and we're sympathetic to that," Rood said.

Jon Cagle, a Banks County resident who graduated from Central Gwinnett, said auditioning was harder than it looked.

"I was shaking like a leaf. It was tough," he said. "It was a lot of fun, though."

Cagle said some of his friends convinced him to audition.

"It's always been a dream of mine to sing the national anthem at a sporting event," he said.

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