“The Star-Spangled Banner” demands the very best of singers. Many have tried and failed, and those moments live in infamy.
Star Genleah Swain’s rendition is not one of those. Her masterful performance has made her a viral star.
While on a visit to Washington, D.C., with family on June 16, the Florida assistant principal was prompted to give an impromptu performance of the national anthem inside the Lincoln Memorial, and she didn’t disappoint. After some hesitation, she started to sing, giving what’s being hailed as one of the most powerful and compelling renditions of the song ever.
Swain’s cool, throaty voice soared inside the monument, stopping tourists in their tracks and silencing the crowd. And when Swain was done, stunned spectators cheered and burst into applause. Several people hurried up her to offer their congratulations.
More than 14 million people have watched the video of Swain’s performance on Facebook.
"I can't believe it. I'm in total shock," Swain told ABC News. "I am so excited though I was able to share my gift with the world and able to touch so many people."
Viewers of Swain's performance have also flooded her with high praise on Facebook.
“With everything going on in the world, to hear your rendition brought me to tears,” one poster wrote. “Thank you for sharing. Haven't heard it sung this good since Whitney [Houston]. You are awesome. I'm sure the world will know you soon.”
Added another: “Brought tears to my eyes. Being in our nation’s capital and to hear something so beautiful at a time where our country is struggling, it definitely gives you some hope. Thank you for sharing your gift.”
An active duty service member was similarly moved, writing: “This gave me chills!!! What a beautiful gift and talent! See how God commanded attention and quieted everyone! Beautifully done! Sung with such conviction! As a Soldier, hearing the anthem is another reminder of why I've continued to serve such a nation!”
Swain, an assistant principal at the Jefferson County Middle/High School in Monticello, is currently pursuing Ph.D. in education policy and evaluation. She also sings in her church choir.