WEST SPRINGFIELD — Considering she has sung it about 75 times, Brooks-Thompson has been labeled the go-to person to sing the national anthem for several local and nationwide events.
“The Star-Spangled Banner” is a difficult song for many to perform, but not to the West Springfield resident, who has been selected to sing it at the 127th Boston Marathon on Monday, April 17, by the Boston Athletic Association.
Although singing the anthem has become second nature to her, “The Voice” finalist still takes each performance seriously.
“I give it a lot of respect when I’m performing,” Brooks-Thompson said. “It is our country’s anthem.”
Brooks-Thompson said her journey to being selected as the singer of the Boston Marathon goes back to January 2011, when she auditioned for “Sing Your Way to Fenway,” a competition hosted by the Boston Red Sox.
After defeating 121 singers from throughout New England, she became the first winner of the competition and has since performed the anthem at several sporting events, including the 2023 AFC Championship Game in Kansas City, Game 3 of the 2022 NBA Finals and the 2021 MLB Wild Card game between the Red Sox and Yankees at Fenway Park.
“A lot of people tell me how much my voice tells a story when I sing,” Brooks-Thompson said. “At the NBA Finals, so many celebrity officials were coming up to me to tell me how the national anthem moved them and they don’t even like it.”
“I don’t always realize the power or inspiration in my voice,” she added. “I’m still coming to understand that.”
Over the years, Brooks-Thompson has continued to develop her own signature sound while drawing inspiration from the artists she grew up with, including Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, Celine Dion and Natalie Cole.
Nevertheless, the singer’s musical career, which she is extremely grateful, is something she never would’ve imagined having as a child.
“I was just a little girl with a dream,” Brooks-Thompson said. “All I could think about was singing and being like some of the iconic artists that I listened to growing up.”
While preparing for her upcoming performance at the Boston Marathon, Brooks-Thompson has taken up other musical and non-musical endeavors.
Last year, the singer released a song titled “Never Give Up,” which was nominated on the first-round ballot of the 2022 Dove Awards for Traditional Gospel Song of the Year. The song was also nominated for a Grammy.
“We let that song ride because it was really important to us to get the message out about never giving up because so many people are just giving up on life and giving up on their dreams,” Brooks-Thompson said.
She is also a 2023 nominee in the Gospel Choice Music Awards for Contemporary Christian Artist of the Year, Female Artists/Vocalist of the Year (USA), Song of the Year and Urban Inspiration Artist of the Year.
Brooks-Thompson is also nominee for the Black Excellence on the Hill award, with a ceremony to be held at the State House.
The singer said she will also be touring with the boy band O-Town and pop band LFO, between April 13-17.
“This is going to be my first opportunity to go on tour and I’m really excited,” she said.
Her advice for other singers who are up-and-coming or feel they lost their chance to perform is to “never give up.”
“You’ll never know whether or not you would have made it,” Brooks-Thompson said. “There are tons of wonderful artists out there that we listen to every day that have never gotten a Grammy. It doesn’t discredit their talent, gift and purpose.”
Heart of the Earth, a nonprofit organization she co-founded with her husband David Thompson, is also one of Brooks-Thompson’s endeavors, which is centered on assisting at-risk youth develop their musical and athletic talents.
“You might have the next baby face, but because of his experiences, those talents have been suppressed,” Brooks-Thomson said. “Whether it’s playing an instrument or singing, or playing basketball or football, we want to help them defy the odds by using their talents.”
To learn more about Brooks-Thompson, visit http://www.michellebrooksthompsonmusic.com/.