Budding jazz saxophonist Houston Smith is home for winter break, and his schedule is pretty typical of a college student. He hasn’t planned many events for his stay.
That easily changed when a mentor from the American Jazz Museum asked the 19-year-old Kansas City native whether he was interested in playing the national anthem before the Chiefs’ nationally-televised game against the Denver Broncos on Sunday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
Smith said the invitation was hard to turn down, even on Christmas night.
“Of course I accepted,” Smith said. “I didn’t have anything else to do.”
Smith recently finished his third semester at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he is majoring in musical performance.
A graduate of Rockhurst High School, Smith has played the sax professionally since he was 13. He regularly books gigs around the Kansas City area.
Because of that, Smith said he is ready for his solo rendition of the anthem on Sunday.
“Hopefully it will be well-received,” he said.
Smith may have help from close to 77,000 people. The Chiefs’ marketing department has asked fans to continue what has become an Arrowhead Stadium tradition.
“Chiefs fans will once again have a prominent role in the prime-time game-day atmosphere for ‘Sunday Night Football,’ ” marketing department officials said in a statement. “All fans will be asked to join in the singing of the national anthem.”