Star Swain was on a normal vacation to Washington, D.C. with her family and church members when she decided to sing the Star Spangled Banner at the Lincoln Memorial.
That decision prompted applause and praise from fellow tourists two weeks ago, but Swain probably had no idea her rendition would eventually draw an audience of millions online.
Swain at first said she’s scared and resists singing, but her friends convince her to sing anyway. She closes her eyes before she begins, and soon everyone inside the memorial seems to be gathered around and listening to her.
When Swain finishes, people cheer and applaud in the typically quiet national monument. Multiple people tell her it was “really good” and high five her, including security guards.
The video was first posted on Facebook by a friend of Swain’s and has garnered about 2.3 million views and more than 10,000 shares.
Swain is pursuing a doctorate in educational policy and evaluation at Florida State University, according to the Tallahassee Democrat, and leads praise and worship at the Family Worship and Praise Center in Tallahassee. She’s originally from Macon, Georgia and used to be a vocalist for Florida A&M Marching 100.
Quincy Griffin, the pastor of her church, said Swain getting recognized for her voice is a long time coming.
“I’ve seen her captivate audiences. I’ve been waiting to see her captivate the world,” Griffin told the Tallahassee Democrat. “Her voice, it’s not just ordinary, it’s extraordinary. Her voice is bigger than singing. People get freed of sadness, depression. It’s a healing that’s even beyond the words that she sings.”