O, Say Can You Sing?

UCO graduate Tina Brown may suffer from stage fright, but her six-year-old daughter, Sahara, doesn’t. “It amazes me,” says Tina. “I took speech in college at UCO and thought I was going to pass out in front of people. I cried afterwards. She definitely gets her confidence from her father.”

Sahara recently placed as a semifinalist in the “O Say Can You Sing” contest, sponsored by the Smithsonian Museum and USA Weekend. Sahara, like all of the contestants, submitted her entry on the popular web site, YouTube. Entries featured over 860 vocalists singing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

The contest kicks off “Star-Spangled Summer,” celebrating the grand reopening of the National Museum of American History during America’s patriotic holiday season with a focus on the flag that inspired the national anthem. Winners – including Sahara – were selected according to overall appeal of vocal performance, originality, lyrical accuracy and popularity on YouTube.

Although Sahara didn’t take the grand prize, she did place among the 15 semifinalists – not bad considering the number of people that entered. She was the youngest competitor and the only one from Oklahoma. She was also the only contestant to carry a five-star YouTube rating throughout the contest.

At the end of her clip, Sahara was asked why she wanted to win the contest. Her response was instantaneous: “Because I love the soldiers!”

Sahara’s interest in the contest came in December, when she sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” in Shawnee’s Christmas parade. She made such an impression that veterans sought her out afterward to thank her. A former teacher saw Sahara’s