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Manchester’s Gloria Sheffield walks out to sing at Carnegie Mellon. (Courtesy Bill Carmack).
A deep breath and a quick prayer settled Gloria Sheffield’s nerves moments before she walked onto the stage to sing in front of her biggest crowd yet.
Sheffield, a Manchester community resident, sang the National Anthem for the individuals waiting to hear President Barack Obama speak during his visit to Carnegie Mellon University on the sunny afternoon of July 6th.
“I had no idea he was even coming to town until I got a call from one of the president’s people asking me to sing,” said Sheffield.
Sheffield admits that she only began focusing more on her singing career in the past 20 years with her singing ensemble, Gloria with Passion, and her weekly rehearsals and performances with the Pittsburgh Gospel Choir.
Even with all of her experience, Sheffield feels extremely lucky for the opportunity to sing for the president of the United States.
After receiving the phone call, Sheffield was left with only a few days to prepare for the performance.
“I didn’t know what to wear, I didn’t even know what I was supposed to sing at first, but boy was I excited,” said Sheffield.
Though her first time singing for the president himself, Sheffield sings the Star Spangled Banner once or twice a year for the Allegheny County Democratic Committee.
As an elected representative with the ACDC, Sheffield has found herself in close contact with President Obama on several other occasions.
“I didn’t even get to shake his hand this time, but oh well, I took a picture with both him and Michelle last time they were at the Peterson Events Center,” said Sheffield.
Along with her involvement in the ACDC, Sheffield is also a long-term active member of the Manchester Citizen’s Corporation and sits on the board of the North Side Leadership Conference.
As for her performance, the crowd seemed pleased.
Photographer, Bill Carmack, was present for Sheffield’s rendition of the country’s anthem.
“I knew if I had a chance to talk to her, I had to tell her how beautifully she sang the song,” said Carmack. “In fact, it was so good, I also felt compelled to tell her not to let this one go to her head.”
The pride continues to resonate even weeks later.
“I was elated by the attention and praise I received for the song. I was so nervous, but so proud.”
When asked what will come next in her singing career, Sheffield’s response is hopeful.
“I don’t know, I’m hoping for a call from the Pittsburgh Steelers or the Pirates next,” she said with a laugh.