Emerson freshman Molly Caron sang the national anthem at the New England Patriots home game this past Sunday, but the long road to what she called an unforgettable experience traces back to another memorable moment at Gillette Stadium nearly a year ago.
In her senior year of high school, Caron got her first big musical break. Then at Bridgewater-Raynham High School, she was picked to sing the Star-Spangled Banner at the New England Revolution’s home finale.
A top local athlete who now plays as a midfielder on the Emerson women’s soccer team, Caron took the field in front of 25,534 fans at Gillette Stadium back on Oct. 20, 2012, performing in front of, at that point, what she said was the largest audience of her life.
Something went wrong, though, as the stadium fire alarm went off and 16 seconds into Caron’s performance — just as she began singing “at the twilight’s last gleaming” — the stadium’s public address system automatically turned off.
Stadium employees scrambled to get the microphone turned back on roughly 45 seconds later as she began the final line, “O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave,” but Caron got an assist in the meantime from those in attendance.
“Singing in front of that many people really brings everyone together,” Caron said. “When the microphone went out a year ago, people could tell that I didn’t forget the words or anything… [The crowd] almost immediately came right in.”
Caron said she was told that type of malfunction had never happened before, and in reconciliation she was brought back to sing the national anthem again for a Revolution home game on Sept. 8, only this time she pulled double duty.
“For the Revolution game, they played [the Montreal Impact], so I actually had to sing the Canadian national anthem also,” said Caron, who said she is part French-Canadian. “A long time ago when I was recording the anthem to send to the [Boston] Bruins I kind of thought that it would be a good idea to put the Canadian National Anthem in there just in case... so I’ve known it for a while.”
Director of In-Stadium Entertainment Abbey Thelin and Production Manager Kevin Collins made a joint decision vowing to give the 18-year-old Raynham native a second chance. According to Collins, after an excellent rendition at the Revolution game, they decided to invite her back to sing on an even larger stage.
This time, Caron would perform in front of a capacity crowd of 68,756 as the New England Patriots hosted the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 1 p.m. football game.
Caron said her parents, David and Laura, and her 14-year-old brother Jake were each given all-access passes, but the game was already sold out by the time she was booked to perform, precluding any other friends and family from attending.
According to Caron, all of her soccer teammates and most of the people on her floor in the Little Building tuned into the Patriots broadcast to watch her sing, only to find that the anthem was not included on the television feed of the game.
Caron, a marketing communications major who said she has been taking voice lessons since the fourth grade, said singing the Star-Spangled Banner is important to her because it shows pride in her country.
“I sing the anthem more traditionally than most,” Caron said. “I try to stay to the original score of the music, so I don’t really change that much about it. … I try to keep it basic because I feel it’s respecting the song more.”
After a moment of silence commemorating the victims of the recent Washington Navy Yard shooting, it was Caron’s turn to step into the spotlight.
“I really got a positive feedback from the audience. It was really nice that they were cheering me on,” Caron said. “Singing in front of that many people was a little nerve-wracking, but I just looked at it as an experience that I’ll never forget.”