*Her name is Genleah Star Swain.
We know this now because video of her impromptu rendition of the National Anthem at the Lincoln Memorial has gone viral in a big way. But tourists who were there during her June 16 trip to Washington D.C. had no idea who this woman was when she started randomly singing the Star Spangled Banner near the statue.
They did, however, discover quickly that she was blessed with a voice.
Watch below as the crowd slowly builds throughout her a cappella performance :
The Tallahassee Democrat tracked down the story behind this beautiful moment:
Swain, 34, said she and her family were in Washington, D.C., on vacation two weeks ago with Marcus Henderson, minister of music at her church, and his family, along with Godby High assistant principal Benny Bolden and his family.
They were inside the Lincoln Memorial, when Henderson started talking about the superior acoustics inside the landmark.
“I said, ‘I could break out and start singing the Star Spangled Banner,’“ Swain recalled Monday. That was enough to get Henderson and Bolden to start urging her on.
At first, Swain said she was too nervous. When she started singing in front of other tourists, she didn’t realize Henderson had started videotaping. Unlike [Marian] Anderson’s historic 1939 concert performance, Swain’s was apolitical and impromptu.
“I was in that moment. I just closed my eyes and started singing,” she said, her voice still giddy with excitement. “Marcus was videotaping the whole time.”
She couldn’t believe the response of the tourists who heard her sing.
“People just started saying ‘that was awesome, thank you,’“ she said. “One lady had tears in her eyes. I was kind of glad it was over. It was like a sigh of relief.”
That was only the beginning. Later that day, the video was posted on YouTube. A few people saw it, but nothing spectacular. It wasn’t until the following Monday that the world began to take notice.
“Someone put it up on their Facebook page and the rest is history,” said Swain.