An 18-year-old Kentucky native, Marlana VanHoose, belts out the National Anthem at Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign launch event in downtown Louisville. (Photo: Yahoo News Video)
The highlight of Sen. Rand Paul’s presidential campaign so far has been the young woman who kicked off his announcement with a powerful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Many of those watching Paul’s announcement via livestream Tuesday took to Twitter to ask who the girl with the booming voice was.
Who was the young blind girl who sang the National Anthem at Rand Paul’s Kentucky rally? Damn she had some pipes!!!
— Kev Brock (@KBrocking)
Who was the girl that sang the national anthem at the Rand Paul announcement? That was incredible.
— Rebecca Kaplan (@RebeccaRKaplan)
Holy Cow that National Anthem at the Rand Paul announcement was amazing.
— Chris Crawford (@CrawfordStuff)
— Steve Lane (@LaneForTN)
The girl singing the national anthem at Rand Paul’s announcement is really, really good. Impressive.
— Jessica Taylor (@JessicaTaylor)
It turns out that she is something of a Kentucky celebrity. Marlana VanHoose, who was featured last year on ESPN’s E:60, has used her exceptional talent to overcome blindness and cerebral palsy. “I love when people get loud and proud,” she told ESPN.
According to her website, VanHoose, who was born blind and later diagnosed with cerebral palsy, was not expected to live for more than a year. At 2, she still could not talk, but was already teaching herself the piano. VanHoose began her singing career in church and at 18, Paul’s presidential campaign launch is just the latest in a series of high-profile events where she’s showcased her talents, including a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the NCAA women’s basketball tournament, a Brooklyn Nets basketball game and a number of University of Kentucky women’s sporting events.
In addition to ESPN, she’s been featured on the CBS Evening News, recognized by the Artists Music Guild as one of 2012’s Best New Artists and Youth of the Year, and praised by celebrities like Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
Paul included several Kentuckians on the lineup for his campaign launch event, including University of Kentucky student Lauren Bosler, Rev. Jerry Stephenson of Louisville, and Bowling Green-based Sgt. J.D. Williams, but it was clear after VanHoose’s goosebump-inducing introduction that she was the crowd’s favorite.