Baltimore native Joey Odoms, who returned this summer from duty in Afghanistan as a member of the Maryland Army National Guard, will be the next national anthem singer for the Ravens. He was selected from among eight finalists who sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" before a jury last week at M&T; Bank Stadium.
"I'm pretty excited," said Odoms, 25, a songwriter and former 911 operator who grew up in Reservoir Hill and did some acting on HBO's "The Wire."
Meg Sippey, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra's artistic planning manager, was among the judges.
"Joey gave a very spirited performance and sang with great conviction," Sippey said. "And the voice quality was superb."
Odoms is expected to make his debut July 28 when the Ravens hold an open practice at the stadium. He will go on to sing for the team's home games, succeeding Mishael Miller, who held the job from 1996 until his move late last year to Alabama.
Last February, while serving in Kandahar, Afghanistan, Odoms learned that Ravens coach John Harbaugh was visiting the base.
"I didn't hear about it until the last minute, and I was on duty," Odoms said, "so I had to get someone to cover my shift. I found a Steelers fan."
Odoms, who had a dream of leading the anthem for a Ravens games one day, asked Harbaugh whom he could contact about being a guest singer. That led to Odoms making an audition tape while in Afghanistan. He later learned that he was a finalist, not for a guest slot but as the regular home game anthem singer.
Largely self-taught, Odoms does not use a pitch pipe to establish a key for the anthem.
"I use muscle memory," he said. "I sing in a key that feels good."
Odoms is ready for the audience participation expected whenever the anthem is sung at sports events in town — the prolonged, Baltimore-accented "O."
"I love that," he said. "That's a part of the anthem for me. I always give a little pause for the 'O.' It will be very exciting hearing the crowd roar that back at me."