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West Fargo High senior Hurley gains fame for 'Star-Spangled' performances

West Fargo High School senior Bailey Hurley sings “The Star Spangled Banner” before last Friday’s wrestling dual against Fargo South. Carrie Snyder

West Fargoans who frequently attend Packer sporting events may have noticed a familiar voice at each event, and I am not talking about the play-by-play man or an overly vocal fan.

West Fargo High School senior Bailey Hurley has been singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” before most Packer home games for the past few years.

“I love singing the national anthem,” Hurley said. “If I could make a career out of singing it, I would sign up for that job so fast. I don’t know what it is about it. I just love it.”

Hurley lives in Horace with her parents, Kim and Pat, and younger sister, Blayke. Apart from music, she has an interest in soccer, playing midfield for the Packers since her freshman year, and broadcast journalism, which she intends to major in after graduation. Those three things keep her plenty busy.

“Singing, soccer and broadcast is my life,” Hurley said. “I don’t really do anything else. I’m always doing something along those lines. I am always on call to sing the national anthem. My mom has to ask almost every day if I’m singing somewhere.”

It is not uncommon for Hurley to sing the anthem twice in one night, nor is it uncommon for her to sing it before her own soccer games. No matter where she sings it, she likes to make sure it is a unique rendition.

“One of the things Bailey has going for her is that she has a unique quality to her voice,” West Fargo music teacher Sue Jordahl said. “When you hear Bailey sing, she doesn’t just sing notes on a page. She sings the music. Every song she sings has her own flavor to it, and that is the most interesting thing. There is a meaning behind her music.”

The reason she brings her own qualities to such a recognizable song, or any song for that matter, is simple: she wants those who hear it know she is singing.

“If you had a wedding next weekend and wanted me to sing a certain song, I would learn it, but I won’t do it any exact way,” Hurley said. “I put my own twist on a lot of things, because that is how people remember you. I would rather have people remember my singing because it was different, even if it wasn’t that good to them. I like it when you tell me what to sing, but don’t give me any restrictions on how to sing it.”

Music has been a lifelong passion for Hurley, and she has a few family members who can “play any instrument in the book.” She knew from a young age that that was something she would like to do as well, but eventually decided that her voice was her instrument of choice.

“I get this feeling when I am singing that I don’t get any other time,” Hurley said. “I don’t really get nervous, but my heart is racing and I get this super-big adrenaline rush, and when I sing it, I start feeling really calm and collected. I really, really love it.”

She sang in public for the first time in a talent show her freshman year. Shortly after that, she auditioned for Fargo Star and finished in the top 10.

“That was a pretty big deal,” Hurley said. “I just remember a load of 14-year-olds overtaking the Hub to see me.”

Since then, she has sung in her church as well as the national anthem before events – not just at West Fargo events, but also before games for the Fargo Force and Fargo-Moorhead Redhawks. She also sings for the world through her own YouTube channel.

One place that stands out to Hurley is during naturalization ceremonies at the courthouse, where she will sing the national anthem and one other American-themed song, such as “America, the Beautiful.”

“You don’t know what the national anthem really means until you see that,” Hurley said. “That is (the new American citizens’) song now. This is their country. It means so much more there than it does at the beginning of a football game.”

“I have worked with lots of students, and they take music classes for a variety of reasons,” Jordahl said. “Bailey’s reason is because her heart is into it. She won’t sing something she doesn’t mean. That is a unique thing from a person her age.”

This fall, Hurley will head to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, pursuing a degree in broadcast journalism. She plans to sing on the side, though, either by joining the college choir or trying out for a talent show like “The Voice.”

“I have had the paperwork in my hand before, but taking that initiative is kind of scary,” Hurley said. “That has always been a dream, though.”

If she does try out, Jordahl believes she has the perfect mindset and personality for a program like that.

“She is always willing to put herself out there. She is going to try things. She doesn’t know what is going to happen or how she will do, but she is going to try. A lot of kids don’t get to that point. She is a very brave young woman. She is bold without being cocky.”

Regardless of whether she pursues that career path, Hurley knows that music will forever be a part of her life.

“No matter what, I still want to sing in church, and I still want to sing the national anthem somewhere,” Hurley said. “I will always want music to be a part of my life. I don’t ever want it to leave. If this doesn’t work out, I don’t want to just sing in my car. It’s past a hobby now.”

One thing is certain in Jordahl’s mind: Bailey Hurley has a bright future ahead of her.

“She can do whatever she wants,” Jordahl said. “If she tries out for ‘The Voice’ and doesn’t come out on top, she will be fine. She will find another venue. If she gets some national recognition, she will keep moving on. She believes in what she is doing, and she doesn’t necessarily need you to echo that, because she knows the path she wants to take.”