Community Issues

United In Song: See The Surprise Duet At A City Park That's Sending A Powerful Message

People everywhere are being inspired by the impromptu moment when two talented singers from different backgrounds join together to sing the National Anthem.

When Portland State University invited senior Madisen Hallberg to sing the national anthem for the college's virtual commencement ceremony, they weren't expecting a duet.

Hallberg, who recently finished up her final semester as a music major at PSU, met up with a camera crew at a park in Portland, OR to film her performance. As she was singing, a man who was passing by asked if he could join her.

Madisen Hallberg, a graduating senior at PSU, was invited to sing the national anthem for a virtual commencement ceremony. YouTube

The man was Emmanuel "Onry" Henreid. Onry is a professional opera singer and has performed all over the world. He lives near the park and just happened to step out for some fresh air when he heard Hallbert singing.

Emmanuel Henreid happened to be walking in the park when he heard Hallberg singing. Emmanuel Henreid/Facebook

"As I was walking by, I kind of passed Madisen as she was singing I didn't know who she was at the time or what they were filming for," Onry told KGW8-TV. "I passed and I was like you know what let's just do it, just be brave and ask if she wants to sing together."

The camera crew said no problem and they filmed a second version of the song with Onry and Hallberg, who harmonized as if they'd been practicing together for months.

c/o Portland State University

Even though the two hadn't met before that day and come from different backgrounds, they said the moment, while unexpected, felt natural.

"As an African American male walking the park blocks, I didn't see a white individual or a woman. I just saw what felt like music," Onry said.

"As a white person, it felt so right singing it with you instead of by myself," Hallberg added.

Onry, a classically trained opera singer, joined Hallberg for an impromptu duetYouTube

Both Onry and Hallberg recognize the power of song, and how music can bring people together, despite their differences.

"When you collaborate with someone and sing with someone, the most important thing you can do is listen to them," Hallberg said. "And listen to what they're doing with their voice and adapt to that and shape your tone and your pitch around them so its harmonious."

"And that applies to all of life," Onry added. "Make sure you listen louder than you speak."

Hallberg and Onry's duet sends a powerful message that even with different backgrounds, they can sing together beautifully. Screenshot: KGW8-TV

Their message is powerful anytime, but it's especially meaningful now, as protests continue across the country and people are using their voices, some for the first time, to speak out against racial injustice.

"When we let our voices pour out, there's no stopping us," Onry said.

How can you start something good?

We might not all have beautiful singing voices, but we can make our voices heard in ways that are just as meaningful.

You can speak out in a literal way by attending protests and fighting against injustice, or you can choose to express yourself by making artwork, or writing a poem.

There are many ways to use your voice. You just have to be brave enough to try!

Let's #StartSomethingGood together!

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