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North Dakota girl sings anthem at Lakers game

ELLENDALE - Alyssa Nishek, 13, of Ellendale, has sung the national anthem at hockey games, rodeos and other events before, but on Sunday, she sang before the Lakers’ NBA game at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

“I was very nervous ahead of time. Every day it was pretty much the only thing I thought about,” Alyssa said about performing at the Lakers-Trail Blazers game. “I think some of the nerves went away when I got there.”

Alyssa was chosen after she sent an audition recording to a few local and regional places, and decided to send the music to a few larger venues as well.

She didn’t expect anything to come of it, until Lisa Estrada, director of entertainment for the Lakers, left a message inviting Alyssa to sing the anthem at the Staples Center.

In preparation for the event, Alyssa, the daughter of Brad and Kari Nishek, practiced every day, doing vocal warm-ups, playing around on the piano and then singing.

She considers “The Star-Spangled Banner” one of the hardest songs she sings, with a vocal range that stretches to the top and bottom of Alyssa’s range. As such, she practices it more than her other pieces.

“And so many people have done it before, you’re trying to do it your own way, and you’re trying to make it your best, because there’s so many versions out there,” she said.

Alyssa, a soprano who sings in a choir in Ellendale, loves crossover music between country and pop, describing it as “between Carrie Underwood and Rihanna.”

She’s been singing ever since she learned how to talk, and started singing solos in church at age 7, her parents said.

Alyssa and her family arrived in California on Friday and used their time to visit colleges for Alyssa’s brother, see the sights and go to a UCLA basketball game.

“I’ve sung the national anthem a lot of other places, but nowhere compared to this,” she said.

The anthem itself went well.

“I was really just trying to think about everything I’ve been taught, but at the same time, I was just so in awe of where I was. I really just wish I could have that moment forever,” Alyssa said.

Though Christina Aguilera’s famous anthem flub during the 2011 Super Bowl did cross Alyssa’s mind, she said she never had a problem with the words.

“It was just a really great experience,” said Alyssa, a big basketball fan. “And we also had some really great seats there. That was pretty awesome.”

Some of Alyssa’s music, including two renditions of the national anthem, is available on YouTube by searching her name.