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Joey Odoms Named Ravens New National Anthem Singer

Posted Jul 21, 2014

The member of the Maryland Army National Guard and Baltimore native will start singing this season.

It feels like life has come full circle for Joey Odoms.

When he was a teenager, he would listen to former Ravens national anthem singer Mishael Miller belt out hymns at his grandmother’s church in Baltimore.

When he was a soldier in Afghanistan, Odoms met Head Coach John Harbaugh and told him that he wanted to be the Ravens’ next national anthem singer.

Now, partly due to Harbaugh, Odoms is replacing Miller, who left the area to preach in Birmingham, Ala.

On Monday, the Ravens announced that Odoms will be the new singer that will kick off games at M&T Bank Stadium. He’s just the second anthem singer in team history.

“Right now I’m really at a loss of words,” Odoms said after getting the news. “I’m ready to start singing for my city.”

The Ravens chose Odoms from eight finalists, who had final auditions at M&T Bank Stadium last Tuesday.

“In an intense competition, he became a clear choice for our committee,” said Ravens Senior Vice President of Public and Community Relations Kevin Byrne, who was one of the judges.

“His voice is pure. His presentation of the anthem is respectful, powerful and done with reverence. We could have chosen any of our eight finalists, and we think our fans would have enjoyed each of them.”

Odoms, 25, is a member of the Maryland National Guard, and his military tie fits in with the Ravens and Harbaugh, who have been big supporters of the military. When Odoms is singing, however, he taps more into his inner Baltimorean than soldier.

Odoms grew up in the Reservoir Hill neighborhood of downtown Baltimore and sometimes went with his grandmother to the Pennsylvania Avenue A.M.E. Zion Church, where Miller was the choir director.

When Odoms went to a Ravens game and realized that Miller was the team’s national anthem singer, he thought about doing it himself.

Odoms feels a strong connection to The Star-Spangled Banner.” It was written by Baltimore native Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombings of Fort McHenry by the British in the Chesapeake Bay.

“Being from Baltimore makes it mean something,” Odoms said. “It’s the close correlation it has with my city, which is an underdog city.”

Odoms tried to sing as much as possible when he was busy working as a Baltimore City 911 operator, then again when deployed to Kandahar, Afghanistan, where he operated as a chemical operations specialist. He sang at large-scale military gatherings abroad, but it wasn’t until he met Harbaugh that his dream of singing at M&T Bank Stadium became more of a reality.

Odoms was in Afghanistan in early February when his commander put out a memo that Harbaugh was on base. Odoms got his shift covered, met Harbaugh, got some memorabilia signed and got his picture taken with him.

As Odoms was about to leave, it hit him that this was his chance to ask how he could become the Ravens’ next anthem singer. He weaved his way back through the crowd and got to Harbaugh to ask for who he should contact. Odoms looks back on it as an “act of faith.”

Nine months later, Odoms tried out in front of a panel of judges at M&T Bank Stadium and wowed them with his emotional, powerful rendition of the song.

“I just feel like I’m a fan. I’m another fan, and I get to kick off the game with my fellow Baltimoreans,” he said. “I want to be part of the energy of everybody else.”

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