Inside the national anthem: Experience meaningful for Manning Mims
BY BILL HAISTEN World Sports Writer
Friday, February 08, 2013
2/08/13 at 7:11 AM
Watch Hanson sing the anthem: Tulsa group Hanson sang the national anthem during Game 3 of the Western Conference finals. Watch the video.
Watch Kristin Chenoweth sing the national anthem: Broken Arrow’s Kristin Chenoweth sang the national anthem at a Thunder game in 2011. Watch the video.
For more OKC Thunder stories.
OKLAHOMA CITY - For some, the fear of public singing would be paralyzing. For Madeline Manning Mims, it's a stress-free experience.
As an Olympic athlete, she won a gold medal in 1968. While prevailing in the 800-meter finals, she was watched by an audience of 60,000 in Mexico City and tens of millions who viewed the telecast.
In the 1972 Games at Munich, Germany, a crowd of more than 80,000 saw her win a silver medal in the 4-by-400 relay.
During competition, "I always had jitters," Manning Mims says. "I was my own worst critic. Singing is a lot easier than running, believe me."
On Monday night, moments before the start of an NBA game matching the Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks, Manning Mims coolly walked to midcourt, took a microphone and sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" a capella before a capacity crowd of 18,203 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
Any vocalist will testify that the national anthem is a difficult song, but Manning Mims hit every note.
"I was really moved," she said. "It's hard to describe what I felt. I felt a deep connection with not only the athletes, but all of the people within the arena.
"One thing I noticed - it was dead silence. It was a very neat, spiritual moment for all of us."
Scott Brooks is an NBA lifer. As a 5-foot-11 guard, he played for six teams during a 10-season career. He was an assistant coach for three teams before becoming the Thunder's head coach in 2008. Brooks has been involved in more than 1,500 NBA games, and the national anthem was performed before every one of them.
"I look forward to the anthem every night. I'm prideful," Brooks said before Manning Mims sang on Monday. "That's one of the things I really look forward to. It moves me every time."
When considering talent for anthem presentations, Thunder officials are conditioned to look toward Tulsa County. In December 2011, before a Mavs-Thunder contest at Chesapeake Energy Arena, Broken Arrow singer and actress Kristin Chenoweth performed the national anthem. On June 1, 2012, Tulsa's Hanson brothers preceded Game 3 of the Western Conference finals - San Antonio at Oklahoma City - with their three-part-harmony presentation of "The Star-Spangled Banner".
Manning Mims is a Cleveland, Ohio, native, a Tulsan since 1978 and never had any vocal training.
"None. I just sang all the time," she explains. "I was in the glee club and the choir and some solo contest types of things. It wasn't until 1976 that I first did a vocal recording. It was a contemporary gospel album."
Manning Mims wound up recording seven albums, most recently "Enough is Enough" in 1996.
During the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials at Eugene, Ore., Manning Mims was invited to sing the anthem.
"That was the most moving thing I have done," she said. "I didn't realize that I would be standing on the track, and I didn't realize that they would be showing my (Olympic highlights) on a big screen. I'm telling you, I got so teared up. When I started singing, I was very emotional. I was thinking, 'Don't lose it.'
"When I came off, the camera man came over and said, 'I've never heard the anthem sung like that. I can tell that it means a lot to you.' My husband and kids were there, and they came over and hugged me. It was very emotional. When I sing the national anthem, it's very meaningful for me."
Manning Mims serves as a chaplain for the WNBA's Tulsa Shock. During the 2012 Olympics in London, she was a chaplain for the U.S. women's basketball team. Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook were members of the gold medal-winning Team USA men's squad.
During the London Games, "I got a chance to meet and really talk with Kevin, and talk a little bit with Westbrook," Manning Mims said. "I told them, 'We're all from Oklahoma.' "
At the request of first-year Golden Hurricane coach Danny Manning, Manning Mims sang the anthem before a University of Tulsa basketball game this season.
The largest crowd for which Manning Mims has performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" was the 61,500 wedged into Soldier Field for a Chicago Bears home game.
The 2012 Henry P. Iba Citizen-Athlete Awards program opened with Manning Mims' rendition of the national anthem, and it closed with her patriotic medley sung against a video backdrop. There had been no rehearsal with the video, but her singing and the video images were synchronized perfectly.
"That was God," Manning Mims said. "You can't say anything but that. It was a God thing."
Original Print Headline: Singing with pride
Bill Haisten 918-581-8397
Madeline Manning Mims sings the national anthem before Monday's Thunder game against the Dallas Mavericks at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City. NATE BILLINGS/The Oklahoman
Madeline Manning Mims sings the national anthem before Monday's Thunder game in Oklahoma City. NATE BILLINGS/ The Oklahoman