Penn Township vocalist wows crowds with national anthem rendition
It’s possible that Antolena Damico was literally born to sing the national anthem. After all, she shares an Aug. 1 birthday with the song’s lyricist, Francis Scott Key.
Over the past three years Damico, 12, of Penn Township has gone from singing the anthem at her older brother’s midget football game to singing it at a Pennsylvania Farm Bureau banquet, Heinz Field, PPG Paints Arena and twice at PNC Park.
“What I love the most is I never get sick of that one-minute song,” she said.
Damico has been singing since she was 3 years old. Not long after that, she memorized most of the “Phantom of the Opera” soundtrack and caught the attention of her grandmother, an organist as well as a vocalist.
She started taking voice lessons at 6 years old, and at 9 decided to try singing the anthem at her brother’s game.
“They never had someone sing it, they always just played it,” Damico said.
Damico’s mother Juliann said someone who heard her at the football game asked if she wanted to sing at a volleyball game, “and it kind of bounced all throughout the school district,” she said.
A recording of the seventh grader singing at Soldiers & Sailors Hall in Pittsburgh was submitted to a Pennsylvania Farm Bureau contest, where she won the judge’s choice award and sang in Harrisburg the night before the farm show’s opening.
But hands over hearts will become hands clapping together later this spring, when Damico plays the role of Peter Pan in Penn Middle School’s production of “Peter Pan Jr.” May 9-11.
She also has recorded an original song, “Rise Above,” about overcoming adversity. It was released March 22 and is available on iTunes, Spotify and Amazon.com.
“I really like ballads and pop songs,” she said of her songwriting.
Damico works part-time at the Keynote Café in Jeannette, where she also hosts an open mic night.
She said she has a great passion for singing any song, but particularly “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
“Whether it’s one person there, or 15,000 people there, I have the same passion for the song, and it never changes,” she said.
Patrick Varine is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Patrick at 724-850-2862, [email protected] or via Twitter .