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World Series has an ACU sound to its music

Some of the musical talent on display in the 2011 World Series, at least before and during games played in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington this week, has a distinct Abilene Christian University sound to it.
M.Sgt. Erika Stevens’ (’87) last performance for a large ACU audience was during Sing Song in February 1987, when she was a hostess. A member of the Texas Air National Guard, she sings these days for the guard’s military band. But she may not have had a bigger venue than Sunday night, when she sang “God Bless America” in an Oct. 23 game during Major League Baseball’s championship series.
An elementary school teacher in the Dallas ISD, Stevens was chosen to sing on the same night when President George W. Bush threw out the ceremonial first pitch before Game Four of the tense series between the Texas Rangers and St. Louis Cardinals in The Ballpark at Arlington.
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, “God Bless America” has been sung during the 7th-inning stretch of all MLB post-season major league baseball games and select others during the regular season, and at other sporting events such as the Indianapolis 500 race each Memorial Day.
Written by Irving Berlin in 1918 and revised in 1938, “God Bless America” was made popular by vocalist Kate Smith, who brought it to the forefront of American sporting events by performing it for home games of the National Hockey League’s Philadelphia Flyers in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Smith died in 1986, but the Flyers still preserve the tradition with anthemist Lauren Hart alternating verses with Smith, with help from historical video clips.
Grammy Award-winning country music recording star and former ACU student Ronnie Dunn sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Game 3 of the World Series. Dunn, who played the guitar and sang with the university’s Hilltoppers musical troupe while briefly enrolled at ACU in the mid-1970s, told Texas Monthly magazine in a 2000 interview that Abilene Christian “is where I learned I could sing.”