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Singers, musicians audition to perform national anthem at Jazz home games

SHARE Singers, musicians audition to perform national anthem at Jazz home games

SALT LAKE CITY— Dozens of hopeful singers tested their voices against a panel of judges, including Emmy Award-winning composer Kurt Bestor, as they auditioned for a chance to sing the national anthem at a Jazz game.

The yearly audition, held Friday morning at the Megaplex theaters in The Gateway, saw singers as young as 6 showcasing their talents for a chance to sing at one of the 44 Jazz home games in the 2017-18 season. Small groups and instrumentalists were also allowed a chance to audition. Bestor was joined by Grammy-nominated concert violinist Jenny Oaks-Baker and Jazz personnel to evaluate the performers.

Heather Jackman, 35, wore her Jazz team jersey as she performed her audition. Jackman, who has been singing at various Jazz and Real Salt Lake games since she was 23-years-old, said it wasn't always so easy for her to get a spot.

"I started auditioning when I was 16, and I got told 'no' for seven years in a row," Jackman said.

She said she cried as she opened the letter informing her that she had finally earned the chance to sing at a game. Since then, she has sung at the arena at least once a year and now is trying out for a chance to sing at more of the big games and playoff events.

"To me, my whole story with this is like 'don't give up,'" Jackman said.

Jackman said she is excited and hopeful to carry her past experience into a chance to sing at one of the bigger games, and said she is not above trying out for the spot.

Bestor, who has been judging the auditions for seven years, said it takes "a lot of guts" to try out and then to potentially sing before 20,000 people.

"Just because you don't make it, doesn't necessarily mean that you're not a good singer," Bestor said. "Every year you sing, you get better and better and better . . . as people get older they mature as performers."

He said shaky nerves are common among even the best artists and that nervous auditioners are "in good company" as they try out.

"I really love to sing and it's something that I would like to share," said 15-year-old Abi Liddell.

Liddell, who auditioned last year, said she felt she made improvements and will keep trying for a chance to sing.

Carly Robbins, the director of game operations and promotions, said singers will be notified within three to four weeks regarding whether or not they had been selected to sing at one of the Jazz games.