On November 30th, CHS freshman Holly Connor stepped out onto the ice rink of a hushed stadium, glaring overhead spotlights directed straight at her, and grasped the microphone stand.
She was about to sing the National Anthem for the St. Louis Blues.
From a young age, Connor has been aware of her passion and talent for music.
“I started to sing when I was three years old,” Connor said. “I have instant memory, which means that when I hear a song, it’s in my brain forever. And perfect pitch, which means that I sing on key. Perfect pitch is when you hear a note and memorize it. For example, if someone plays a G, I can sing G. If someone plays a C, I can sing C.”
These skills have helped Connor not only with her voice, but also in learning a variety of instruments. She plays the ukelele, harmonica and piano, as well as dabbling with the kantele and pan pipe. Several videos on her Youtube channel, Holly Connor, feature her singing along to one of these instruments.
However, despite her talent in many realms of music, vocal performance remains Connor’s core interest. For this reason, she has participated in countless musical theatre performances, notably appearing as Glinda in the Wizard of Oz and Mama Ogre in Shrek the Musical, as well as actively singing for multiple choirs. Currently, she is a member of the CHS show choir and COCA’s Allegro show choir. These experiences have allowed Connor to grow as a musician and have set the stage for a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“It was August,” Connor said. “The St. Louis Symphony Education Coordinator, Jessica, decided to host a competition for new national anthem Blues singers. And I was part of the competition. I never got back for the finals at Powell Hall, but I didn’t need to be in the finals, because the Blues coordinators were blown away by my voice in the video. I just went and sang confidently.”
Although thousands of fans would be watching her performance, Connor didn’t feel nervous before she sang, as she was confident that she had perfected the piece. When she reached the line, ‘and the home of the brave,’ and audience echoed back, ‘Blues!’ she was struck by the meaningfulness of her accomplishment.
“After it, I felt very, very proud of myself. My dad was like, ‘Oh, Holly, you did very good!’ and I saw a good friend of mine, my acting coach, she saw it too and said it was so good,” Connor said.
Holly is blind and autistic, and she hopes that her achievements in the music world will help to raise awareness for people in her community.
“I think [me singing the anthem can help spread awareness],” Connor said. “Because people are there to support me. When my mom looked at the videos on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, there were no negative comments. They were all positive.”
Looking ahead, Connor aspires to pursue a degree in vocal performance, so that she can focus on her passion into adulthood. In the nearer future, she’ll continue to perform with her choirs and in musical theatre shows. She’s hopeful that, before she graduates, she’ll get another opportunity to sing for the Blues.
In an interview for the NHL highlight reel of her performance, Connor repeated her goal in singing on a larger scale: “This is a message to all the audience to spread ability awareness for blindness and autism to the world.”