As a member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and separately as a recording and concert artist in his own right, Alex Boyé has sung the U.S. National Anthem more than 100 times. But on Feb. 22, Brother Boyé sang the anthem for the first time as a newly minted citizen of the United States.
The occasion was the naturalization ceremony at the Rose Wagner Theater in Salt Lake City for Brother Boyé and others being sworn in as U.S. citizens. His performance of the anthem was very much impromptu.
U.S. District Judge David Sam, who conducted the ceremony, noted the presence of Brother Boyé and mentioned his membership in the choir.
“Mr. Boyé, we are honored to have you here,” Judge Sam said. “Would you like to sing a song for us today?”
Speaking from his seat among the citizenship candidates, Brother Boyé responded, “Anytime you want.”
Handed a microphone, he continued, “I’m so honored. I’ve got to tell you I’ve been here for 10 years. My mom and dad are from Nigeria and I lived in London, England. And since I’ve been here 10 years, I think I’ve sung the National Anthem over a hundred times.”
His voice breaking with emotion, he added, “And the next time I get to sing the National Anthem I will be an American U.S. citizen. It feels a lot different. I’m excited.”
Judge Sam responded, “Would you like to come up here and sing the National Anthem as a new U.S. citizen for us?”
With demonstrative and unrestrained enthusiasm, Brother Boyé complied with the request, as those gathered in the hall stood with hands over their hearts. When he finished, Brother Boyé bowed to and then embraced Judge Sam.
The occasion was captured on video and may be seen on YouTube on the Internet at this address:
In written comments on the YouTube page, Brother Boyé said of his newly acquired citizenship: “It has been a long time coming, with many trying twists and turns in the road. I also just found out that my swearing-in ceremony was on the same day as George Washington’s birthday, the Father of our Country. It could not have happened on a more appropriate day! My goal and true desire is to (now officially) play my part in defending the Constitution of this country in any way that I can with the gifts and talents that God has blessed me with.”
In greeting his friends and family on the website, he exclaimed, “Hurrah for Israel!” an apparent allusion to the 1839 incident in Church history when Heber C. Kimball and Brigham Young, departing from Nauvoo, Ill., on a mission for the Church and ill at the time, rose up in their wagon to cheer their downcast loved ones by shouting “Hurrah, Hurrah for Israel!”
In his written introduction to the YouTube video, Brother Boyé commented, “The judge put me on the spot and asked me to sing the National Anthem. Watch it here. This was one of the most scary and emotional experiences of my life.”