Chance Encounter Leads To Viral Video Of 'Star Spangled Banner' Duet

Jun 25, 2020
Originally published on June 25, 2020 6:44 am
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit


Madisen Hallberg was invited to submit a video for her virtual graduation ceremony from Portland State University in Oregon. Hallberg is a singer, and she planned a solo performance of the national anthem in a park with a cameraman taking video.


MADISEN HALLBERG: (Singing) Were so gallantly streaming.


But less than a minute into the song, a second voice joins in.


MADISEN HALLBERG AND EMMANUEL HENREID: (Singing) And the rockets red glare.

GREENE: That's the voice of Emmanuel Henreid, a professional opera singer who goes by the name Onry. He heard Madisen, someone he didn't know, singing and asked her if he could join.

EMMANUEL HENREID: All the sudden, we just started harmonizing. I came in on the verse, and she was kind of surprised a little bit. Like, OK, this is great.


MADISEN HALLBERG AND EMMANUEL HENREID: (Singing) Oh, say does that star spangled...

MARTIN: Portland State use that video of Onry singing with Madisen for its virtual graduation and posted it online, and it went viral. It was by any measure a moment of magic. But it was especially magical right now. Onry is African American; Madisen is white. For him, the experience was a direct contrast to images and videos that portray conflict rooted in racism.

HENREID: This African American male just walking up and singing with this woman who happens to be white. And there's a beautiful moment that happens there.


MADISEN HALLBERG AND EMMANUEL HENREID: (Singing) And the home of the brave. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.