Last year, an 11-year-old Nevada girl found herself in the midst of numerous talented adults, all competing for a chance to sing the national anthem at the opening of a home I-Club baseball game.
Bailey Crain, now 12, made the cut.
Her dad, Shawn Crain, recalled that very windy tryout day when he took his daughter to Des Moines. “I was thinking we were at the wrong place,” Shawn said when he saw all the people, most of whom were much older and experienced singers than his daughter, a fifth-grader at the time. “When she was done singing, they were like, ‘Now, how old is she?’”
Her performance of the national anthem at Principal Park was Bailey’s first time singing in front of hundreds of people, but as you can hear on a video that her dad took of that performance and still has on his cell phone, she sang like a seasoned professional, showing her parents and the 100 or so friends that came along how gifted she truly is.
Bailey’s parents say they have no idea where the oldest of their three daughters got her voice, because neither of them is gifted in that way. While they always heard their daughter singing as a child, they never thought about the talent she might have, until a friend’s parent told them that her voice was “really impressive.”
“That parent prompted us,” said Tricia, Bailey’s mom. “They said, ‘She’s a really good singer,’ and we said, ‘Oh, you think so?” But others were also noticing. Teachers often told Bailey that she has a God-given talent. And one of Nevada’s well-known local singers, Deb Malsom, who attends church with the Crains, has become a mentor to Bailey, getting her involved in singing with the church choir.
When asked what she most likes to sing, Bailey said she likes slower songs that are sometimes “sad songs.” Joan Jett and Christina Aguilera, who wouldn’t usually be mentioned in the same context, are two of the singers she admires most. And Shawn said it was country music that he remembers Bailey singing first. “She was about 3 and she knew every word to every country song,” he said, recalling her belting out the words from her car seat when the family was traveling.
But it’s singing the “Star Spangled Banner” that Bailey has become most known for in her hometown. She has performed in Nevada prior to district and regular season track meets, and at a softball game last year.
Before going public, Bailey used to sing that song around the house. “I kept on singing it (the “Star Spangled Banner”) wrong, and so my mom printed the words out for me and I started practicing it on my own.” By age 11 she had it memorized, and that’s when she decided to do the I-Club tryouts.
Her favorite part of the national anthem, she said, is the ending, “I like where I say ‘home of the brave.’ I don’t know why, but it just makes me feel good.” And when people applaud, it makes her feel like she did a good job. She also has had older people tell her about the importance of the national anthem, which always makes her want to do the song in the best way she can.
This year, Bailey played the part of Sacagawea in the sixth-grade musical of “Lewis and Clark” and she sang several solos. She didn’t try out to sing at an I-Club game this year, but she hopes to sing at more local events. She also plans to continue singing in school as a member of the junior high chorus and someday, the high school chorus.
Most importantly, this 12-year-old already has fans. Two of her biggest fans are her younger siblings, Briar, 9, and Bryn, 6, who both love listening to their older sister sing and often dance along. Tricia said the younger two girls don’t appear to have the same vocal gift as their older sister.
Bailey also appreciates the support she’s received from her friends, especially her friend Allie Arthur, who often accompanies her into a press box when she’s singing the national anthem. “We always know we need to have Allie with us when Bailey sings,” Tricia said.
Tricia’s biggest regret as she watches her daughter grow as a singer is that Bailey gave up on playing the piano after four years of lessons. But Bailey — who said she hopes to be an OB nurse when she grows up, because she loves babies — doesn’t regret giving up piano right now. It’s the singing she truly enjoys.
“I like performing, because it gives me better confidence… I like singing for my friends, too.”