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Young Singer Wins Chance of a Lifetime

BALTIMORE, Maryland - On July 4, Americans celebrate Independence Day with parades, fireworks and, in some communities, concerts of patriotic music. About 95 kilometers north of the nation's capital, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra will perform outdoors, under the stars.

This year's concert will open with Cassidy Hamilton belting out the "Star Spangled Banner," the U.S. national anthem. The young singer was chosen in April in a major competition.

The National Anthem can be a challenge, but more than two dozen singers, aged eight to 17, gave it their best shot for a chance to perform it with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

“They come on stage and they are all nerves, but they are very cute and endearing,” says Laura Farmer, one of the judges who is in charge of the competition. “We have four judges who grade the singers on their poise and singing ability, tone, posture, stage presence, and volume of course, because they need to project over the loud symphony orchestra.”

Hamilton, this year’s winner, should have no problem doing that. Not only does she project, she is poised, professional, and mature beyond her 16 years.

“I think I started my love for music really early on in elementary school," she says. "But I think I was probably 14 when I realized this is what I’m doing for the rest of my life.”

Cassidy, who is from a town outside Annapolis, Maryland's capital, studies voice with Larry Friedman, who says this is a great opportunity for her. “Not a lot of people her age get a chance to sing with a symphony orchestra, get a chance to sing for a large audience of that nature.”

Adalia Jimenez got that chance three years ago, when she was only 11. Her advice to Cassidy is, "...not to be nervous and just to have fun, because it will be over like that. I wish I could do it again.”

Adalia has performed several times since, just not with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

As for Cassidy, it won’t be her first performance in front of an audience, but she knows it will be special.

“I’m excited," she says. "I didn't think it was going to happen.”