There are only a few members of the Baltimore Ravens franchise who have been with the organization throughout its entire existence. There’s legendary 16-year veteran linebacker Ray Lewis and longtime general manager Ozzie Newsome, both of whom have served the Ravens since their first game in purple and black back in 1996.
And then there’s Mishael Miller.
Since 1996, Miller has sung the National Anthem for just about every Baltimore Ravens home game. By his count, he has sung “The Star-Spangled Banner” more than 230 times over the last 16 years, mostly live at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.
“It’s an honor and a blessing to have been able to have such an opportunity to sing in front of hundreds of thousands of people for all these years,” Miller told the AFRO. “I am truly blessed and humbled just to think about it.”
A music graduate of Morgan State University in Baltimore, Md., Miller said he was first called upon to sing the National Anthem for the Ravens right before their very first home game, played at the old Memorial Stadium. He said Morgan State’s marching band was performing at the game, and Morgan’s band director, Melvin Miles, had recommended him to the Ravens’ event staff as a potential singer for the National Anthem.
“So I met [late former Ravens owner] Art Modell and his staff and he told me that they had more than 200 audition tapes from singers who wanted to sing the National Anthem and they honestly just didn’t have the time to listen to them so I had the job for the day,” Miller said.
After the game, Modell and his staff told Miller he had done such a great job that they wanted him to have the job permanently.
“They told me they had a permanent singer when the franchise was still the Browns back in Cleveland and that worked out best for them, so they wanted to keep a permanent singer in Baltimore too and I was the right man for the job,” Miller said.
Since then, Miller has missed only a handful of appearances as the official National Anthem singer for the Ravens. His classical singing style has become a signature at all home contests, and fans expect to hear his voice just as much as they expect to see Ray Lewis dance during the intros of each game.
“I guess you can say I’ve become a bit of a local celebrity,” a humble Miller told the AFRO, while laughing. “It’s really fun because many of the diehard Ravens fans that show up to all the home games will speak to me at the Wal-Mart or grocery store. I say, ‘wow, they really recognize me!’”
Miller is also very popular with the audience at his church, A.M.E. Zion Church on Pennsylvania Ave in Baltimore, where he serves as the assistant pastor. Miller has been closely connected with the gospel since his childhood and said his destiny is to serve as a member of the ministry.
A native of Philadelphia, Pa., Miller told the AFRO he probably would have never moved to Baltimore if it wasn’t for Dr. Nathan Carter, the late, great former choir director of Morgan State University.
MSU has long been known for its outstanding choir, which has sung for several presidents of the United States over the past few decades. After graduating from high school in Philly, Miller said he registered to attend Clark Atlanta University in Atlanta. But he had a chance to hear Morgan State’s band and had a change of heart.
“I said, ‘forget Clark Atlanta, I want to sing for that band’ because they were so good,” Miller said. “So a buddy of mine set up an audition for me to sing for Dr. Carter at Temple University; he liked me and pulled some strings and got me into Morgan. The rest was history.”
Miller graduated from Morgan State in 1995, and has called Baltimore his home since. Now, his second home is M&T Bank Stadium, where he plans on singing the National Anthem for the Ravens for many more seasons to come.
“I’d love to take on more singing opportunities,” said Miller who has traveled the world, singing in South America, Italy, Poland, Moscow, Germany and the Caribbean Islands. “But I love singing here in Baltimore for the Ravens and will remain here as long as they’ll have me.”