By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN Ten-year-old Alyssa Trautman took a deep breath.
She had sung solos in Delano school concerts and in theatre performances, but this was different.
Forty thousand pairs of ears were listening, waiting to hear her sing “The Star Spangled Banner” before the start of the Aug. 13 Minnesota Twins baseball game.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking, but I had a lot of fun,” Alyssa said.
When the audience saw a soon-to-be fifth grader on the large screen, some may have wondered, “How would she sound? Was she too young to do a good job?”
However, the minute Alyssa’s voice filled the stadium, any doubts about her capabilities vanished.
“Alyssa did a very straight, natural version,” said her father, Brent.
The opposing team, the Oakland Athletics, was clearly impressed with Alyssa’s talent.
“The players came up to the edge of the dugout afterwards and were complimenting her voice,” Brent said. “They all stuck their hands out to high-five her. These are guys who hear the national anthem sung all the time, so that was kind of mind-blowing to me.”
Brent said he also saw people in the lower sections of the stadium standing and cheering for Alyssa.
“She did a nice job,” Brent said.
Six months ago, Alyssa had no idea she’d have the opportunity to sing the national anthem at a Twins game.
Brent and his wife, Nancy, took Alyssa to TwinsFest in January as a way for her to gain auditioning experience.
“You have to do it a capella,” Brent said.
The 2010 TwinsFest kicked off the Twins’ 50th season of baseball in Minnesota with interactive games, memorabilia sales, and of course, auditions to sing the national anthem at one of 82 Twins games.
“There were 1,400 people who tried out,” Brent said. About 400 were at TwinsFest, and 1,000 sent in video auditions.
Before the audition, Alyssa practiced by singing the national anthem in the right key for her voice.
“It jumps over an octave, so a lot of people don’t like to sing it,” Brent said.
Alyssa has no trouble reaching the notes, however.
“She got up and really just nailed it,” Brent said.
“It’s a little bit challenging, but it’s fun,” Alyssa added.
Dr. Joseph Henry, musical director for the churches of St. Peter and St. Joseph in Delano, helped Alyssa prepare for the Twins performance by teaching her how to breathe while singing.
“It’s very important to breathe,” Alyssa explained. “Otherwise, the high notes will fall flat.”
Alyssa has never taken formal voice lessons, but hopes to start soon.
“I’m hoping to have a singing career when I get older,” she said. “It’s a hard thing to do, and you have to really work at it.”
Ever since she was 4 or 5, Alyssa has loved to sing. It wasn’t until she was in second grade, however, that her parents realized her potential.
“She was singing a solo at a Christmas concert, and it kind of dawned on us that she had talent,” Brent said. “People were like, ‘you’ve got to do something with her.’ They were coming up to us after her performance and handing us business cards for private voice instructors.”
At the time, Alyssa’s parents felt she was too young, but now that she’s at the “ripe age of 10,” Brent and Nancy have been exploring more singing opportunities for Alyssa.
She has sung in local plays such as “Amahl and the Night Visitors” and “Honk!” and also sings in the Christmas choir at St. Peter’s Church in Delano.
“She has quite the resumé cooking for a 10-year-old,” Brent said. “Directors love working with her. She’s very professional, and she’s got a good work ethic.”
In the future, Alyssa hopes to perform “The Star Spangled Banner” at other sporting events, such as Vikings, Timberwolves, or Wild games. Brent said it would also be fun to have Alyssa sing at Delano High School football games.
“If you can sing the national anthem, it lends itself to a number of different opportunities,” Brent said. “It can be sung in hundreds of places.”
Alyssa also plans to broaden her experience by becoming involved in the Chanhassen Dinner Theatre.
When asked where Alyssa got her talent, Brent said he thinks it is from his wife, Nancy, who also has a good voice.
Brent is a drummer with musical ability, but he doesn’t consider singing one of his skills.
“You don’t want to hear me sing,” he laughed.
Alyssa’s 13-year-old brother, Devin, isn’t a singer, either, and is more interested in sports.
The youngest Trautman, 5-year-old Sydney, may share Alyssa’s passion someday, however.
“She loves to sing, like her big sister,” Brent said. “They sing together, and actually harmonize.”
Alyssa’s favorite music to listen to is country and pop, and she enjoys anything by Carrie Underwood.
Having a person as young as Alyssa sing the national anthem at a Twins game is fairly unusual, according to Brent.
“She was the youngest one to try out that I saw,” he said.
Twins community relations coordinator Glo Westerdahl wasn’t surprised that Alyssa was chosen, Brent said.
“Glo was ecstatic when Alyssa got done performing,” he said.
The entire Trautman family went to the game to watch Alyssa sing, including relatives from Oregon.
“We had about 100 people, between friends and family, go and buy tickets for the game,” Brent said.
Alyssa might try out to sing at another Twins game next season, as well. TwinsFest 2011 is scheduled for Jan. 28-30.
For more information about TwinsFest, go to www.minnesota.twins.mlb.com.