Voice of America


The national anthem is far from an easy song, but Catina Mack loves to sing it anyway.  

Catina Mack
The national anthem is far from an
easy song, but Catina Mack loves
to sing it anyway. 

As every American knows, “The Star-Spangled Banner” isn’t so much a song as an obstacle course.

It’s not just that minefield of a melody, which lyricist Francis Scott Key borrowed from a British drinking song. His 19th century words are tricky, too, at least for us here in the 21st:

“O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?” Good thing this is the “home of the brave” or none of us would ever have the nerve to try to sing our national anthem.

One of the bravest among us is Sanford’s Catina Mack, a part-time secretary and full-time mom who sings the “Star-Spangled Banner” every chance she gets.

Mack, who turns 36 this month, started giving public performances of the anthem in 1995, at a vocational-school graduation ceremony in Clearwater. Since then, she has performed the song more than 200 times at parades and ballgames, colleges and convention centers.

“When I was standing up there and singing, I was able to express my love for my country,” she says, thinking back to that first performance. “I was standing for something.”

This July 4th, Mack will sing the national anthem as part of the annual fireworks celebration at Lake Eola. Of course, not everyone shares her enthusiasm for the song. Some, in fact, propose changing the national anthem to something, oh, a tad more singer-friendly.

The very thought of that horrifies Mack. And she doesn’t like jazzed-up versions, either.

“I just don’t believe the song is about the vocal acrobatics of the singer,” Mack protests. “When people put too much into it, they ruin the song.”

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