Nine-year-old Brady Ashworth could teach many adults a little lesson in courage. The rising fourth grader at King Elementary was chosen to sing the national anthem at the Winston-Salem Dash this summer. When he made his way to the field to stand in front of nearly 5,000 people he began belting out the words. Thirty seconds later, the microphone crackled and he couldn’t be heard. A worker at the BB&T Ballpark quickly came to his side and replaced his microphone. Ashworth never missed a beat and finished strong with fans from the stands singing along.
“It gives me the confidence that I can do stuff like that,” he said. “Before it would just be humiliation if I messed up, but after that happened I realized if you mess up, people won’t be laughing at you. They’re going to help you.”
Ashworth heard about the competition off a commercial and although he’d sung at church and performed in a local play he was reluctant to tryout.
“I wanted to do it because in music class we learned about the national anthem. When I was singing it one day, my music teacher stopped because she said she heard something. She looked at me and said I sang with vibrato and it made me feel good,” he said. “But the Dash, that’s huge.”
On the day of the audition Ashworth played a basketball game that morning, then raced to the stadium to join the 140 singers trying out.
“A lot of them were very good,” he said.
Half were chosen to sing the national anthem at one of the Dash’s 70 scheduled home games. The top scoring contestant was local pastor, Brian Beverly who sang on July 4 to the second highest attended game in Dash history.
Ashworth’s parents, Bobby and Lisa, surprised their son with the news he’d been chosen to sing in front of thousands at his favorite restaurant in King, Little Italy.
“I love their spaghetti and meatballs,” he said. “My mom brought me there. Then, my sister-in-law’s parents got out of the car and then some more friends. My brother and sister-in-law were there at a big table. Right before we got our food my mom handed me a slip of paper with a Dash signature on it. I opened it up and it said that I was going to sing!”
Making the event even more memorable, the nine-year-old received the game ball from the Dash’s catcher who handed it to him from the dugout.
In the future Ashworth plans to continue taking center stage, but not as a singer.
“I like to sing, but I really like politics. I want to be president,” he said confidently. “When Barack Obama was running for president for his second term I started getting interested in it. I kept listening to what people were saying and asking questions. I started studying about the history of other presidents.”
Recently the rising fourth grader attended King’s City Council meeting where he led the pledge of allegiance.
“I didn’t want to sing in front of the mayor and the councilmen, but I enjoyed doing the pledge.”
After serving as third grade class representative at King Elementary, he’s looking forward to next year’s student council when he’ll have the chance to run for vice president.
“One of my teachers asked me if she could come to the White House when I become president,” Ashworth said. “I told her if she’s still alive, sure.”
Amanda Dodson can be reached at 336-813-2426 or on Twitter at AmandaTDodson.