An open letter to Kate Ceberano about those national anthem lyrics.

Dear Kate,

I’m sorry that the press has jumped on you over the last 24 hours for your AFL Grand Final performance of the Australian National Anthem. It’s a huge honour to sing at a major sporting event, but it’s also exhilarating and high pressure.

Earlier this year, I sang the Australian National Anthem at the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup, and I’ve had the honour to sing at the Boxing Day Test Match. Twice. Without fail, each and every time I sing the National Anthem, my hands shake for at least 15 minutes before and after, from excitement and nerves all rolled together.

Most people will never understand the Adrenalin rush that comes from standing in the middle of a packed MCG. The roar of the crowd is phenomenal, the sound of tens of thousands of passionate voices singing back at you on a slight delay can drown out the backing track in your ear entirely, and the only thing that keeps it all together is the hard work and practice you’ve put in with the backing track at home, at tech runs and at rehearsal earlier that day.

You have literally one minute to sing the Anthem, and when the music starts, there is nothing that can possibly stop you from getting through the entire song. There is no pause button. There is no option for a redo.

You may have sung one word wrong, but you didn’t stumble, you didn’t pause, and you continued on through like the consummate professional you are. A lesser performer might have panicked, paused or made up a line (or the words, as happened in Argentina last year!), but you didn’t skip a beat and pushed on to deliver a stirring rendition of our National Anthem. It’s the roar of the crowd at the end that matters and you brought the house down!

If I ever find myself in a similar situation, I hope I have the grace, professionalism and presence of mind that you had to deliver the wonderful performance you did yesterday.

With love and respect, from one National Anthem singer to another,
Monica xx

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