PAINTSVILLE, Ky. – A petite, young Kentuckian with a mighty big voice will take perhaps her grandest stage yet when she performs at the presidential inaugural concert.
“Whoo! I’m excited,” said eastern Kentucky resident Marlana VanHoose.
At little more than 4-feet-tall, VanHoose has confidently led tens of thousands of sports fans lots of venues in singing the national anthem since she first appeared center court at a University of Kentucky women’s basketball game in 2012.
From NBA games at the Q in Detroit to trackside at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, VanHoose wows crowds wherever she goes.
Her rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” received thunderous applause from delegates at the 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland last July.
“They just loved her,” said her mother, Teresa VanHoose.
VanHoose, 21, plans to switch things up a bit for the concert on Thursday by singing “America the Beautiful.” Her stage this time will be the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Her audience: the world.
“I always tell people to never give up and always dream big,” VanHoose said, which is particularly inspiring when people learn of her physical difficulties.
“I was born blind, but it doesn’t stop me. God has blessed me beyond measure in every part of my life,” VanHoose said.
Not even Cerebral Palsy, which limits her mobility and the amount of time she can stand on her feet without pain, can keep her down.
“I have the Holy Spirit, and He takes care of me every single day,” she said.
Teresa VanHoose said she believes her daughter has a special anointing from God to be able to do what she does.
“We’ve been all over the United States and everywhere she goes she will talk about God," she said. "It doesn’t matter who it is or whether she’s got a microphone or not."
VanHoose, who could hum "Jesus Loves Me" before she could talk, began singing hymns at 3. Now, she plays piano, arranges and composes music.
“God has blessed her not only with a musical talent, but a willing heart,” said Clay Wheeler, pastor of Liberty Baptist Church near Paintsville, where VanHoose is a member. “Marlana has so much faith it just bubbles up and spills out.”
VanHoose said she's not sure she will have the opportunity to share her faith on Thursday’s national stage other than singing the verse, “America! America! God shed his grace on thee.” But she plans to talk about God to anyone who will listen.
“My big dream is to travel all over the world and inspire people and encourage people and lead them to Jesus,” VanHoose said, “because people need help.”