Our national anthem is arguably, one of the toughest songs for an artist to perform. So much range, pressure to make it your own without offending traditionalists, and most of the time, acapella. Easy to veer off the rails, tough to swerve back on.
Lately, Miss America veterans have been REPRESENTING the stars and stripes.
Both Miss Nebraska 2014 Megan Swanson and Miss South Dakota 2008 Alex Hoffman (now KETV’s morning anchor) were selected as finalists to audition to sing at the College World Series.
And if you’re bored (GULP!) CLICK HERE to hear MY rendition before the Nebraska & Creighton baseball game back in April… if there’s an alternate game Saturday June 20th at the CWS, I get to sing, too!
The list continues.. Miss Nebraska 2011 Kayla Batt-Jacox sang in front of thousands at Werner Park this spring before the Nebraska & UNO baseball game. Miss Omaha 2014 Payton Merritt will sing at TD Ameritrade Park this weekend during the Big East baseball tournament. Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev sang before the Washington Nationals & Miami Marlins game on May 7th. We’re everywhere!
And this last weekend, a huge honor for one of this year’s Miss Nebraska contestants, chosen to sing the anthem in front of thousands at her own college graduation from Creighton University.
MISS NEBRASKA STATE FAIR 2015 MARIE ALLISON
“Blessed to have been fortunate enough to graduate from Creighton with degrees in Philosophy and Music, summa cum laude, and to have sung the national anthem for the graduating classes of 2015,” Marie posted on Facebook. “It is humbling to realize the massive investment of time, the support of my wonderful family and friends, and the connections with faculty and fellow scholars that I have made throughout my Creighton experience. I may not be certain of what I desire to be in my future, but I know I am well primed to realize that truth as a process that will happen. Thank you to the people who always believe in me.”
These thoughts, showing appreciation and reflection, mirror the messages Marie sent me recently regarding the Miss America program.
“I never, EVER thought I would be a girl who competed in pageants,” Marie told me recently. “This decision changed the trajectory of my life dramatically because I learned how pageants challenge you to grow.”
Marie’s first pageant exposure came through her love of horses; she was a rodeo queen. She is also a passionate equestrienne, behind the training of two national caliber show horses, and a volunteer at the Heartland Equine Therapeutic Riding Academy. Those roles, however, didn’t always put Marie in the spotlight.
“As I am an introvert, appearances were very challenging to me,” said Marie. “I was pushed outside my comfort zone to become equal to the take of being a good representative of my program.”
Marie herself had what she calls personal stigmas about pageantry, something she confronted directly when she competed for Miss Colorado last summer.
“I became involved in the Miss America program when I realized I could be impacting real change in my community and earning scholarships to fund my education,” said Marie. “This program has made me consider what I value deeply, and the issues I feel need to be adequately addressed by our society as a whole. I have come to profoundly respect my fellow contestants as outstanding individuals and community servants. They are authentic leaders with humble confidence that lights up the world around them, providing examples that empower all youth and particularly young women.”
Marie is a true example of that. She spends time doing crafts with patients at Omaha’s Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, she’s active with Omaha’s Urban Abbey Methodist Church and Coffee Shop, and she’s a volunteer with the Stephens Center for the homeless. Marie does all of this not because she has to, but driven by her own background.
“I chose my platform (‘Communication: Proactive Prevention’) because I would not have attended college, nor would I be the person I am today if I did not have a strong social network and people believing in me,” said Marie. “Given my personal experience with socioeconomic stress and homelessness, and how difficult these experiences were, I now that I would not have survived or thrived without the help of the communities I was involved in. It is my goal to help build meaningful relationships and communities to help others the same way people have helped me to overcome seemingly impossible circumstances.”
Homeless. To college. To singing at her own graduation from Creighton University.
The words of the Star Spangled Banner are etched into every American’s heart and soul.
What so proudly we hailed..
Through the perilous fight..
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.
Courage when things are tough. Standing tall and persevering. Being a beacon for those who may come after you.
May 18, 2015, standing in front of her fellow Creighton University graduates, singing those words. What a special moment for a young woman who has lived her own version of the Star Spangled Banner. And the journey for Marie Allison isn’t over yet; next stop, Miss Nebraska.
Follow Miss Nebraska State Fair Marie Allison and contact her for appearances and events on Facebook.
For information on becoming a future contestant, contact Director Chelsey Jungck at 308-382-1710 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Miss Nebraska Pageant will take place June 3-6, 2015 in North Platte. Click here to visit the organization’s website, to visit the pageant on Facebook, to follow the pageant on Twitter, and to follow the pageant on Instagram.
To read more about the Miss Nebraska Class of 2014, click on the ‘There She Is’ link at the top of the page.