I’ve always been a person that anticipates signs in the universe. Whether it is a funny shaped cloud, a number, or an unexpected call from a friend, there is something amazing about the nature of signs. That being said, within the journey to Fenway Park to sing the National Anthem, I needed and received many all at once. I won’t try and cover up the fact that I was beyond nervous to sing the Star Spangled Banner in the most marvelous setting. As I drove down 93 South into town, I began to feel myself tear up with emotions and I desperately needed something to calm me down. As I hoped and prayed, I noticed three cars in front of me with the number 28. Then I passed an exit for Route 28, and my mother commented that I had 28% battery life on my phone. For those of you who may be unaware, my grandfather, Jim Leavitt, played baseball at Woburn High School with the number 28 on his jersey. The fact that the number of his jersey appeared to be all over, along with his participation in baseball as I was on my way to entertain a crowd of fans before a professional baseball game, I knew that Jimbo would be with me during my rendition of the National Anthem.
As I arrived at Fenway and waited for my opportunity to perform in front of thousands of people, I began to get nervous again. Suddenly, a Red Sox ambassador asked me if my parents would like to also come onto the field to capture the moment — a huge relief. Everything was building up perfectly to my moment on the green. As I approached my spot behind home plate, I looked up to the sky, thanked God for this opportunity, said hi to my Papa Jim, and turned to face the stands. With the first line out of my mouth, “Oh say can you see, by the dawn’s early light” I knew that this would be the most extraordinary moment in my music career yet (of course with many more to come). Of course, this would not have been possible or nearly as breathtaking without the help of God, Papa Jim, my mom, my dad, my friends and boyfriend, and my brother Randy who called me to tell me that my Bogaerts jersey was a great outfit choice. Next stop, Gillette?
As a child, I was introduced to the Beatles through the animated film, The Yellow Submarine or the “yellow sungarine”as my brother called it. Singing along with the tunes, I became encaptivated with different Beatles songs such as “When I’m 64,” “Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band” and of course “Yellow Submarine.” As I grew older, “Help” and “Yesterday” were at the forefront of my Beatles knowledge. I recognized Paul McCartney and John Lennon as the songwriters of the Beatles and did not really deal with the other two all too much. I did end up seeing Ringo Star in concert, which was an awesome time at the age of 9, the Allstar band singing “Liverpool” and my dad smiling made me realize that maybe there were other talents in the Fearsome Foursome that I was neglecting.
Still, George Harrison in my mind was only known for “Here Comes the Sun,” a song I felt was overdone and underwhelming. What did George Harrison offer the Beatles? My adolescence couldn’t put my finger on it. Then, at the ripe age of 18, I found “Got My Mind Set On You.” While it isn’t his greatest hit, the George Harrison I once knew as a one hit wonder became illumined in a more ecclectic way. There was something about the melody that drew me in, and I was singing the tune on repeat within a week. Why hadn’t anyone ever told me that George had other songs? Why hadn’t I searched his name before to see that he did his own work? Up until this point, I was blinded by the ignorance of my youth. I can’t say that this experience is what changed me, though.
At 23, preparing for a livestream show called “My Sweet George,” a tribute to George Harrison, my father told me I would be performing Crackerbox Palace, a song I had never encountered before. How was I supposed to feel for a song I didn’t know, and perform it for a crowd of intense Harrison fans? It was only after watching the music video that I really understood what was happening. Take after take, practice after practice, I willed myself to channel Harrison in my facial expressions, my body movements, and my overall being. In the moments of recording, I felt myself become an image of George Harrison. With my spirituality enlightened by daily yoga and meditation, my faith in God as a theology masters student, and my new arrival to the George Harrison fan club, I can definitely say I’ve opened my arms to a newer, more freeing world…a world with Harrison’s many hits on repeat.
Calling all Beatles fans! Renee & the Renegades will be performing at “My Sweet George.” A livestream from the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Chachi Loprete is hosting and several bands will be featured performing George Harrison songs. “My Sweet George” is a tribute to the late great George Harrison for his birthday. Join Renee & the Renegades along with Chachi and other great bands. Ticket information can be found on the link below.