A week before massive protests and civil unrest spread across the United States, Madisen Hallberg, a graduating senior at Portland State University, recorded a special rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner for her college’s virtual commencement ceremony.
As multiple cameras captured Hallberg singing the national anthem on downtown Portland’s South Park Blocks, viewers can hear birds singing on a sunny spring day, creating a powerful yet idyllic scene.
Then something special happened. A professional opera singer named Emmanuel “Onry” Henreid happened to be in the area when he heard Hallberg singing. Missing the ability to perform for months because of COVID-19 restrictions, Onry was in need of the soul-filling connection that comes from singing with others.
Initially thinking it might be too intrusive, Onry mustered the courage to ask Hallberg if he could sing with her. The result of the serendipitous encounter is a duet rendition of America’s national anthem that feels like balm for a nation’s collective wounds.
You may want to turn the volume up for this.