Singing the National Anthem at an NFL game is a bucket list item for many artists but doing it in front of the hometown crowd is even more special.
That is the opportunity Madison Hughes received when the Ponte Vedra Beach native stepped onto the field and sang the tune prior to the Jacksonville Jaguars home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sept. 10.
Hughes grew up in Ponte Vedra Beach and attended Bolles Elementary School before going to Episcopal School of Jacksonville, which is where she first learned to play the guitar in fifth grade.
She even remembers putting on a concert at the St. Johns Town Center in sixth grade as a member of Episcopal School’s choir.
When looking back, she cannot believe at times the ride she has been on to this point that helped get her from the Town Center to singing in front of nearly 70,000 people at EverBank Stadium.
A major part of her journey has been taking part as a contestant on season 22 of NBC’s “The Voice.”
“I like to create my own opportunities in everything that I do, and ‘The Voice,’ really allowed for that,” Hughes said. “It kind of brought me out and made me realize the type of artist I want to be. ‘The Voice,’ served as the catalyst that validation I had been searching for.”
What made her experience on “The Voice,” even more unique is that although she loved to sing, performing in front of others was not something she sought out.
“Even trying out for ‘The Voice,’ was not something I would have done prior,” Hughes said. “It was such a good experience for me, and I knew I had to try it even it was a little uncomfortable at first. I knew deep down that everything leads to the next step in our journey, and that was a big step I had to take.”
She describes her music style as an assortment, and she often finds herself harkening back to what she listened to growing up.
“We grew up listening to all the classics, from Bob Dylan, Neal Young, the Eagles and Allman Brothers to Bruce Springsteen,” Hughes said.
So what is it like to walk out onto a football field with what can feel like the entirety of the First Coast waiting to hear you sing?
“I was super nervous, but I kept telling myself that I had sung at a UNF basketball and (Jacksonville) Shrimp game before, even though I knew it was pretty different,” Hughes chuckled. “My stomach actually didn’t drop until they announced my name, but it always happens like that for me right before a show.”
Knowing she had so many of those who had been there supporting and remained by her side along the way, provided a sense of calm and allowed her to truly soak up the moment.
“There are so many people from the Beaches communities that are so supportive to me,” Hughes said. “It also made it interesting that my mom’s side is from Kansas City and my dad’s side is from Jacksonville, so it made the matchup itself even more special as well. All the messages I got leading up to it and after were all amazing.”
As she stood there in her Jaguars attire and her the roar and applause as she wrapped up the final notes of the National Anthem, she knew it would be a memory she would have engrained forever.
“It was a lot of work that went into it, but it was all so worth it,” Hughes said.
Hughes continues to journey on her path as a musician and a list of upcoming shows can be found by going to madisonhughes.com.
She can also be found by searching “Madison Hughes” in the various social media platforms.