Singers always bring personal flair to the National Anthem, but a young woman’s shaky vocal performance on the song at the Summit County Fair on Saturday is getting the red glare from some county residents.
On Saturday evening before the fair’s Demolition Derby, Jennie Gautney, a resident of Francis, stood on the open bed of a pickup truck at the center of the county’s Coalville arena and hoped to give a slow and sultry rendition of the anthem that would fit her vocal style. Her attempt, however, backfired, with videos shot by several members of the outdoor audience showing her singing veering repeatedly off-key as she confused portions of the melody.
“I am extremely embarrassed by my performance. I know it sounds absolutely horrific, terrifying, disgusting and disgraceful,” Gautney said in an apology she posted on a Facebook Tuesday. “I just want to be clear that my intentions were not to be disrespectful towards our country or our national anthem and, most importantly, not to harm or hurt anyone at all.”
Word of the performance quickly spread across social media, with some viewers questioning Gautney’s sobriety and others demanding an apology, calling her rendition of the song offensive. Videos of the solo had received more than 100,000 views on YouTube, as of Wednesday.
In her Facebook post, Gautney explained that she didn’t have a sound check prior to the performance, so she had difficulty hearing. And as she sang, Gautney said she could tell performance was tanking and she didn’t want to continue.
Summit County issued an apology of its own Monday after several residents called, emailed and posted on social media to complain. “We want you to know,” county officials wrote, “we are not ignoring you or your comments.”
The statement said it was the county government‘s responsibility “to uphold the value of respect for our country,” adding that county officials would reevaluate how they procures talent for such events.
“In organizing events, Summit County strives to maintain a standard of excellence which guarantees the best experience for all who attend,” the statement read. “As we start our events with the National Anthem, it is our intent to honor the country, its citizen and all who have served. We regret this did not meet that standard.”
Despite calling her performance a failure, Gautney said in her post that she is stronger for it.
“I can still look in the mirror,” she wrote, “and be proud of who I am.”