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Bullskin youngster to sing national anthem at PNC Park

| Tuesday, June 5, 2012, 9:57 p.m.

Taney Basinger may only be 8 years old, but the little girl with a big voice will be singing the national anthem at a Pirates game this summer.

"I'm excited. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Basinger said.

The Bullskin Township girl won the opportunity to perform at the July 2 game during Pirate Fest at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh in December. Basinger beat out many other children and adults in the first ever "Oh Say Can You Sing" contest.

"It was such a surreal experience. I could not even believe it," her mother Rachel Basinger said. "Someone even came up and asked her for her autograph. So, she signed her first autograph."

Taney Basinger has been singing since she was 4 years old. She began singing in public for the first time at church. She also tried her hand at theater and appeared in some productions at the Geyer Performing Arts Center in Scottdale.

The first time she sang the national anthem in public was at a youth sports event at the Pennsville Baptist Church. Rachel Basinger said the church leader in charge of the event was so impressed she remarked that Taney should be singing the song at a Pirate game or something. Little did she know how foretelling that statement would be.

Since the church event, Taney Basinger has been invited to sing the song at other local events, most recently she performed the anthem at the 2011 Scottdale Fall Festival and at Veterans Day program at the Mt. Carmel Christian School which she attends.

Taney Basinger, mother Rachel, father Cary and sister Tagan are Pirates fans and enjoy going to the games. When they received an invitation to Pirates Fest through their Kids Club membership, Rachel Basinger decided to take the girls. She knew about the new contest so when they got to the event, she signed up her daughter.

"It was kind of set up like an American Idol competition," Rachel Basinger said.

Taney Basinger first had to sing in a preliminary round held in a tent with judges. She received one of only 20 tickets awarded that day which moved contestants on to the next round early that evening. During the second round, each contestant sang in front of all of Pirates Fest.

"It was one of the biggest crowds she has ever sang in front of," Rachel Basinger said.

The event was hosted by Root Sports sportscasters Lacee Collins and Bob Walk. Three judges, a local radio personality and Pirates James McDonald and Clint Barmes chose the top three that would move on to the final round. Judges rated contestants on a scale of 1 to 10 and had a gong to eliminate contestants while they were singing.

Taney Basinger was the only contestant of the 20 to receive three 10s, and the crowd and judges gave her a standing ovation.

Taney Basinger said she was very scared before going on stage. "I was like, 'Mommy I don't think I can do this, I don't know the right key to start,'" she said.

For the final round, the contestants with the top three scores were asked to sing a Christmas song.

Taney Basinger sang "Once in Royal David City." The crowd chose the winner by clapping and cheering.

After the contest, Taney Basinger got to meet Pittsburgh Pirates President Frank Coonelly.

"I liked meeting all the Pirates, the judges and everything and having everybody say good job," Taney Basinger said.

The contest was held each day of the three-day event making Taney Basinger one of only three people chosen to perform at a Pirate game through Pirate Fest.

Taney Basinger said she is most looking forward to meeting all the Pirates including her favorite Neil Walker.

Prior to her performance, Taney Basinger will practice at the stadium so she can experience and get used to the echo, which is created by the large venue.

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