The Baltimore Ravens announced Monday that Joey Odoms has been named the winner of their national anthem competition and is scheduled to sing at each home game during the 2014 season.
One of approximately 50 people to audition for the role, Odoms becomes the Ravens' second-ever regular performer of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Longtime vocalist Mishael Miller, who sang at nearly every home game for 18 seasons (since 1996), made his last appearance at the Ravens' 2013 home finale prior to becoming the head pastor at St. Luke A.M.E. Zion Church in Birmingham, Ala.
A member of the Maryland Army National Guard who recently returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan, Odoms, 25, is a former Baltimore City 911 operator who is also known for his work as a songwriter, actor and photographer.
The Baltimore native, who attended St. Frances Academy, has made multiple appearances on HBO's "The Wire" and worked both on and off the stage with many international and domestic performing artists. Impressively, he has also sung at several large-scale military events throughout the world.
"This is amazing," Odoms stated after learning he had been chosen as the Ravens' national anthem singer. "I was caught off guard, because I really didn't think I would get it. I remember sitting there over the years while watching Ravens games and thinking to myself, 'I could probably do that,' and how cool it would feel to actually do it. But I never thought I could get to that point or how it would ever happen."
This past February, Odoms was in Kandahar, Afghanistan, when his commander announced that Ravens head coach John Harbaugh was on the base visiting military members. Upon meeting Harbaugh and obtaining his autograph, Odoms asked the coach if he would connect him with somebody who could help him achieve his dream of singing the national anthem on gameday.
"At that time, I didn't even know Mishael had moved away or that the Ravens were looking for someone," Odoms explained. "I was just hoping that maybe there was an opportunity to sing at one game."
But about five months later, after learning of the Ravens' competition and filming a video audition alone from his base tent in Afghanistan, Odoms emerged as a finalist to replace Miller. Along with seven other candidates, he then took part in a final live audition in front of eight judges on the field at M&T Bank Stadium on July 15.
"In an intense competition, he became a clear choice for our committee," Ravens senior vice president of public and community relations Kevin Byrnesaid. "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 is scheduled to make his Ravens anthem debut on July 28 at M&T Bank Stadium prior to the team's free and open training camp practice, which begins at 7 p.m.
"I'm really excited right now, amped up and ready to go," he stated.