March 22, 2024

Robbyn DeSpain, Director of Strategic Communications

Meet the Voice Behind the National Anthem at Blazer Basketball Games

Amanda Gilbert is pursuing a Master of Music Performance at Valdosta State University.

VALDOSTA – If you attended a Lady Blazers or Blazers basketball game this season at The Complex, you heard the National Anthem sung live. The woman behind the terrific rendition is a Valdosta State University graduate student with an unlikely story.

Amanda Gilbert first attended VSU in 2001. After getting married and having children, she returned as a senior undergraduate in the fall of 2022. She graduated with her bachelor's degree in fall of 2023, and is now attending VSU as a graduate student of music performance.

VSU: When did you realize you could sing and how did you decide to turn that into a career?

Gilbert: I have always enjoyed singing and making music and knew that music would be a great field for me. I remember singing in children's choir as a little girl and along with every song that I heard on the radio since I can remember. In elementary school, music teachers would give compliments. I didn't understand it at the time. I played the clarinet in middle school and high school. I also enjoyed singing with the jazz band in high school and I've always found pleasure in singing with a choir in school and church. 

VSU: What is your favorite part of the Department of Music at VSU?

Gilbert: My answer to that is two-fold. My favorite part of the department of music are the faculty and students. It’s encouraging to be surrounded by music makers and singers every day. I've been able to establish relationships with both vocalists and instrumentalists. Faculty of the Music Department are friendly, helpful, encouraging, and knowledgeable. 

VSU: I know you are headed to Portugal and Spain this summer as one of 30 VSU students performing in the Lisbon Music Festival. What are you most excited about?

Gilbert: I'm excited to explore a country that I've never seen before and to sing in places where I have not had the opportunity to sing. Meeting other people and experiencing a different culture is an opportunity that I'm grateful and humbled to have in my life.

VSU: How did you get involved with singing the National Anthem at Blazer Athletic events?

Gilbert: It was as simple as an emailed request from the athletic department. They reached out and asked if anyone would be interested in singing at the home basketball games, and I volunteered. 

VSU: Is the National Anthem really as hard to sing as everyone says? What do you love most and like the least about singing it?

Gilbert: At 9 years old I was prompted by my elementary music teacher to audition to sing the National Anthem for the local minor league baseball team, the RedStixx, in Columbus, GA. She saw something in me apparently because she worked with me before and after school to learn the National Anthem's melody and words, Prior to that time I do not recall ever hearing the National Anthem. I didn't understand then just how significant that opportunity was at 9 years old. On the day of the audition, I was the youngest one there to sing, and yet I was the one chosen out of all of the others that auditioned. Recently, I was going through boxes of items that my father had saved since I was a little girl and found the letter from the RedStixx Columbus Professional Baseball Club. I didn't realize that he had kept it. I love the honor to sing our country's National Anthem with every chance that is presented. It possesses the ability to unite people by means of remembrance. Although I didn't know the meaning or history of the National Anthem at 9-years-old, I did eventually learn of it. The worst part about singing the National Anthem aside from its wide range of pitches is that it can be difficult to sing when I begin to think about what the penned words actually mean. I tuck away the patriotic emotion and push through to the end. 

VSU: What do you want people to know about VSU and its Department of Music?

Gilbert: VSU's Music Department is a program for serious musicians and equips students for teaching and performing careers. 

VSU: Once you graduate with your masters, what are your future career plans?

Gilbert: The idea is to teach and be at the same school as my children. We shall see. Perhaps the future will allow more opportunities to sing the National Anthem as well. 

More on the Web:

VSU's Department of Music:

VSU Students Raising Money for Performance in Europe: