NASHVILLE, Tenn. --- A special tribute celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner will take place during the 2014 NCAA Women's Final Four national championship game tonight.
Talented country music newcomer Cassadee Pope will perform the national anthem before the start of the championship game between Connecticut and Notre Dame at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn. Pope will also be accompanied by the Fort McHenry Fife and Drum Corps to celebrate the bi-centennial of the national anthem.
The tribute will incorporate the past, present and future of the American flag. The past will be represented by the Star Spangled Banner flag, with 15 stars and 15 stripes, on one end of the court. This flag currently flies at Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Md., and was used at the Men's Final Four in Dallas on Saturday. The present will be the traditional American flag that will be accompanied by the Color Guard members of the Nashville U.S. Army Recruiting Company. The future will be represented by future soldiers from local Tennessee Army recruiting centers in Antoich, Madison and Murfreesboro that will carry and hold the flags during the national anthem.
The Fort McHenry Fife and Drum Corps is the musical ambassador for Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine. The Fife and Drum Corps has performed at other National Park site such as Gettysburg National Battlefield Park, Arlington House on the grounds of Arlington National Cemetery and the Baltimore National Heritage Area. Reproduction instruments are meticulously made like the originals from the hickory wood used in the drums to the special key of "C" in the fifes. Members of the Fife and Drum Corps have researched each piece played from original music found in archives and libraries.
"The National Park Service at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine is honored to bring the Star-Spangled Banner to the NCAA," said Chief of Interpretation Vince Vaise. "Our national anthem has always been linked to national sport and we are proud to bring the flag and fife and drum corps from the birthplace of our country's song."
The Fort McHenry Guard is a group of specially trained staff and volunteers organized by the National Park Service. Dressed in the uniforms of the soldiers and sailors who defended Fort McHenry from British attack in 1814, they provide a touchstone to the past. The Fort Henry Guard is "on duty" every weekend during the summer conducting cannon-firings, fife and drum concerts, flag talks and other period activities.
"It's an honor for me to be a part of something that highlights females' achievements," said Pope. "I'm thrilled to join the celebration around the NCAA Women's Final Four in Music City and I can't wait to perform for the fans."
Pope, a 24-year old native of West Palm Beach, Fla., was named the winner of the third season of NBC's The Voice, becoming the first female winner in the show's history. In October 2013, she released her solo country album, Frame by Frame, debuting at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums and at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 charts. The Republic Nashville project has produced the Top 10 "Wasting All These Tears" and the latest offering, "I Wish I Could Break Your Heart," which she will perform on tour with Tim McGraw this summer.