“We’ve been able to do this for the last seven years. Every year, we’ve had a minimum of 100 people come to audition,” said Johnny Watson, Milwaukee Bucks Executive Producer of Live Programming and Entertainment. This year marks Watson’s eighth season with the Bucks.
Besides plenty of potential national anthem singers, the Bucks draw talent nationwide — and across the globe.
“We get tons of submissions from all over the country — and all over the world — from those who want to perform at our games,” Watson said.
Milwaukee Bucks national anthem singers have included 11-year-old Liamani Segura, of Racine, a self-taught singer who has performed at many high school and professional sporting events, and Pewaukee resident Ben Tajnai, who auditioned for season 16 of NBC competition reality show “The Voice.”
During auditions, each singer gets their photo taken, and every performance is recorded. Watson said he encourages performers to relax as much as possible.
National anthem singers are selected to perform for 10 to 20 games, and typically perform to a crowd of 18,000 or more. “It’s a very important part of the game,” Watson noted. Occasionally, a touring musical artist or theater actor performing in Milwaukee will sing the anthem. “We like to tap into the talent of the city,” Watson said.
He believes that the Bucks have been “very fortunate” to find exceptional singers. “I’m a big believer in local talent, and giving people the platforms to showcase that talent,” Watson added. “I have the utmost respect for people who perform the ‘Star Spangled Banner.’”
Auditions will be held October 1 during three time slots: 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.; and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. There is no age limit to audition, although those under 18 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Participants register onsite.