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Meet the National Anthem Singers of the RNC

A photo of the RNC stage.
ELIZABETH MILLER
/
IDEASTREAM

There are no Ohio politicians scheduled to speak at the four-day Republican National Convention.  So instead of hearing from Governor John Kasich or Senator Rob Portman, delegates and the media will be hearing from locals in a different way.

Clevelanders may have recognized Dan Polk’s classic take on the National Anthem Tuesday night at the RNC.

Because he’s performed the tune at more than a hundred Cleveland Indians games, including the first at Jacobs Field when it opened in 1994.  It was the Indians who recommended Polk for the RNC gig and he says, he’d sing for the Democrats too if they asked him.

"Regardless of political beliefs, the National Anthem represents and honors our country and our flag. That’s why it’s always an honor to do it, no matter what," Polk said.

Polk started singing for the Indians in the 90’s, when he says the gig was more about increasing attendance.

"Back then, they weren’t that good. Not that many people showed up – and I have a really big Irish Catholic family. And they knew that if they invited me to sing, at least 25 people will show up. So they kept on asking me back,” he said.

Bowling Green resident Abby Paskvan will do the honors at the RNC on Wednesday.  Paskvan, a southern gospel singer and student at Bowling Green State University, isn’t nervous about tonight’s performance but she plans to keep things simple. 

"That song is so precious to me because I know that song is supposed to be sung to its roots. It’s supposed to be sung how it was written," she said.

Paskvan says she started belting out the tune when she was 8 years old, performing at local sporting events.  She sees the similarities between the song, gospel, and Republicans.  She says they’re all rooted in patriotism.

"I hope that when I get up there – people will maybe look me up online and see what I do.  ‘Hey, this girl sings other gospel music, she sings very religious things.’ And hopefully someone will get something out of it," she said.

Paskvan will be the last of three local artists performing the National Anthem at the convention.  The Cleveland based Singing Angels kicked off the RNC on Monday.  And when Polk stood on stage yesterday, he says he was proud to look out and see convention attendees joining him in song.