BOSTON, Mass. (State House News Service) – When Patriots and Texans fans hear the “rocket’s red glare” echoing through Gillette Stadium ahead of Saturday’s kickoff, they will be listening to the voice of an aide to a freshman state represenative.
Nyah Macklin, a 22-year-old Waltham resident, sang the national anthem at Brandeis University’s graduation ceremony last May, and her rendition was so impressive that a New England Patriots season tickets holder alerted the front office.
“We reached out to Nyah in December when we knew we were going to have a playoff game and asked her to send us a demo. She did and was fantastic so we asked her to sing,” Patriots Vice President of Media Relations Stacey James wrote in an email. “We wanted to find someone who had a powerhouse voice and she certainly does.”
Macklin was president of the student government at Brandeis and worked for Quincy Rep. Tackey Chan starting mid-October before taking a job as an aide to Rep. Brian Murray, a freshman Democrat from Milford.
When she sings the Star Spangled Banner before the divisional round playoff game in Foxborough, Macklin said she will be thinking of pride in country and the struggles people have endured before arriving in the United States.
“When I sing, and especially for this moment, I want to convey the emotion of the anthem, both looking at the pride of America, but also the pain that a lot of folk have gone through to get here,” Macklin said.
About a year before she started working at the State House, Macklin was one of the students who occupied a Brandeis administrative building out of frustration with a spate of killings of black people, she said. Macklin said the students held the building for 12 days, and through marathon discussions with school officials, where she was part of a negotiating team made up entirely of women of color, the university agreed on a plan to address diversity and inclusion.
“There are lots of folks who think in old world mentalities with regards to what a politician or a public figure looks like,” said Macklin, who said she was the first black woman president of student government at the school. She also said students didn’t take the action “because we were ungrateful” to the school, and described Brandeis as “one of the best places to create sustained change with regards to racial and ethnic diversity.”
Macklin graduated in December, and though she hadn’t previously known Murray, she applied for the job and said “our personalities get along very well.” It was Murray who told the News Service about his aide’s singing role in Saturday’s game.
Macklin grew up in New Haven, Conn., and has sung the anthem previously at high school sporting events, she said, and performed “Aquarius” from the musical “Hair” on amateur night in New York City’s famed Apollo Theater – where she was not given the notorious hook to be pulled off stage.
“I’ve been singing for myself forever. I’ve done a number of choirs and things like that, but I’ve never tried to pursue singing professionally,” Macklin said.
Macklin said she learned about a week and a half ago she would be singing at the game, and said she was told it will not be part of the television broadcast. Working out of the “bullpen” on the fourth floor of the State House where newly elected state representatives are housed before rooms are assigned, Macklin said she is focused on organizing for the new legislative session.
“We’re trying to get our constituent database up and running, so I’m in charge of doing all that,” Macklin said. “It’s been great.”
Copyright 2017 State House News Service