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Choice of World Series musicians strikes sour note with Royals fans

Trisha Yearwood performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Tuesday night’s World Series opener at Kauffman Stadium and did a fine job. But she has no ties to Kansas City.
Trisha Yearwood performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Tuesday night’s World Series opener at Kauffman Stadium and did a fine job. But she has no ties to Kansas City. The Associated Press

Each year, the World Series showcases the host cities to the thousands in attendance and the millions watching on television.

This year, Major League Baseball missed a chance to show the world another facet of Kansas City culture: its music heritage.

Trisha Yearwood performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” before Tuesday night’s World Series opener at Kauffman Stadium. Yearwood is a decorated country music star with a powerful and agile voice, and her straightforward, no-frills performance was commendable, as expected.

And the crowd at Kauffman Stadium gave her the reception she deserved, even toning down the “Chiefs” chant at the end.

But Yearwood has no ties to Kansas City or Missouri. She was born in Georgia and now resides in Oklahoma with her husband, country megastar Garth Brooks. He has a long association with Wal-Mart, whose former CEO is David Glass, owner of the Royals.

Her selection would be easier to accept if the choice for Wednesday’s Game 2 weren’t so irrelevant to Kansas City and if the motives behind it didn’t feel so transparent.

Phillip Phillips, 24, is also a Georgia native. In May 2012, he won Season 11 of “American Idol.” That show airs on the Fox television network, which is broadcasting the World Series.

MLB likes “Idol” winners, especially Phillips. This will be his second World Series performance. He sang the anthem before Game 1 of the 2012 series in San Francisco.

MLB, which works with the home teams in selecting the performers, had plenty of choices had it wanted to enlist an artist from Kansas City.

Opera star and Prairie Village native Joyce DiDonato was the winner in a poll conducted by The Star at kansascity.com — a campaign that has received coverage in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. David Cook, a Blue Springs native and 2008 “Idol” winner, came in second in the poll.

But there were other options, none better than Janelle Monae, a Kansas City, Kan., native and multiple Grammy nominee. Gospel/soul singer Oleta Adams is another.

Santana will perform an instrumental version of the anthem before Game 4 in San Francisco. Why not an instrumental version here from jazz guitarist Pat Metheny, a Lee’s Summit native and multiple Grammy winner? Or saxophonist Bobby Watson, director of jazz studies at the University of Missouri-Kansas City?

There have been precedents: In 2006, Motown natives Bob Seger and Anita Baker sang before Games 1 and 2 of the World Series in Detroit.

On the other hand, St. Louis knows how Kansas City feels. The singers for the remaining three games of the 2006 series at Busch Stadium were Trace Adkins, JoDee Messina and Billy Ray Cyrus.

Every Kansas City Royals fan is hoping for a quick dispatch of the San Francisco Giants. But if they must return to Kansas City for a Game 6 and maybe Game 7, there will be a silver lining: This campaign will be relaunched, and the world may get another chance to see what our music heritage is made of.

To reach Timothy Finn, call 816-234-4781 or send email to tfinn@kcstar.com. Follow the Back to Rockville blog on Twitter @kcstarrockville.

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