In 2016, a large, excited crowd eagerly anticipated the start of a basketball game between West Virginia University and the University of Kansas.
From a production standpoint, it was go-time, but the vocalist slated to sing the national anthem was nowhere to be found.
A massive snowstorm had struck, and national anthem singer Leslie Dorchester was stuck in traffic. Bitterly disappointed, Dorchester knew there was simply no way she’d make it to the arena before game time.
“I was so devastated,” Dorchester told Inside Edition. “I tried so hard to get there. I actually parked my car and tried to run in the snow and ice.”
In Dorchester’s absence, production staff were left scrambling to find a replacement vocalist. Singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the spot is no easy task, and finding a capable vocalist who was already onsite seemed highly unlikely.
In a flash of brilliance, someone remembered police officer Carlton Smith, cop by day, vocalist by passion.
Smith happened to be working security in the building that night, and if he agreed to a last-minute performance, he just might be able to save the national anthem crisis.
“They were like, ‘Hey, we need a favor. Can you sing the anthem?'” Smith recalled. “I said, ‘how long do I have?’ They said, ‘about five minutes,'” Smith told Inside Edition.
Smith, who auditioned for American Idol in 2014, proved up to the task. He stepped out onto the floor and took the mic, belting out a fantastic rendition of the national anthem that left the crowd cheering.
“Any chance I get to do the national anthem is always a big deal to me.” Smith said later. “I was just basically hoping I didn’t mess it up too much.”
The icing on the cake was that Smith stood before athletes and fans from his alma mater, West Virginia University. “I love being a Mountaineer and so to be able to do it for a game, it was a big deal to me,” Smith expressed.
Smith felt American pride swell in his heart after the last-minute performance. It was a moment he would never forget.
“I love this country and I love singing,” Smith stated. “So two of the things that I love put together, there’s an overwhelming feeling of joy.”
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