By Monique Harrison

Daily Journal

Fourteen-year-old Allison Barber can’t count the number of times she’s stopped what she was doing to listen to the performance of “The Star Spangled Banner” before the Atlanta Braves hit the diamond.

But next Thursday, Barber won’t have to tune in to hear the game. She’ll be there – singing.

“I’ve watched so many people and groups singing there,” said Barber, who is one of 51 Tupelo Middle School concert choir members who will sing the national anthem before the Braves go head-to-head against the Florida Marlins. “I never thought I would really be out there singing – to be with a group good enough to really do this.”

This is the third year TMS’ all-girl concert choir, which is made up of seventh and eighth-grade students, is performing at a professional baseball game.

Last spring, they performed for a Texas Rangers baseball game in Arlington, Texas. In 1994, they were selected to perform pregame music for a nationally televised Chicago White Sox baseball game at Comiskey Park in Chicago.

The choir was selected after it mailed videotapes of previous performances to a committee charged with selecting

Students, who’ll leave Tuesday, will make several stops on their five-day trip. On the way to Atlanta, the choir will stop off at the Auburn University School of Music to perform. Students will also perform at two private schools in Atlanta, before competing in the Fiesta-Val Choral Competition.

The competition is expected to draw several junior high and high school choirs from across the nation, particularly the Southeast.

The choir has a winning tradition at national competitions. For the past eight years, the school’s concert choir has either been named best overall or first runner-up.

“We’re on a real roll, so there’s a lot of enthusiasm,” said the choir’s director, Dr. Larry Newell. “There’s some pressure to continue that roll.”

Pressure seems to go hand-in-hand with the choir’s winning tradition.

“For people with older sisters that have been in choir, it’s pretty hard,” said 14-year-old Katie Caldwell, who doesn’t have an older sister that’s participated in school choir. “People are always telling us we have to win. We have to be good.”

Anna Rutherford, whose older sister participated in choir, agrees.

“I’ve always wanted to be in this choir,” she said. “When I was little, I remember watching them perform and thinking they didn’t sound like a bunch of kids singing. They sounded really (professional). The music was hard. I think it still sounds that way.”

Newell isn’t sure if the choir’s performance at the Braves game will be televised.

“Sometimes, they sing the anthem during the commercial break, and it doesn’t get picked up,” he said. “I’m still trying to find out how that’s going to work.”

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