When President Barack Obama’s campaign called Carla Davis last weekend to ask whether she’d sing the national anthem during his visit to Akron, her first thought was: I hope I don’t sing off-key or forget any words.
Davis, who has sung the difficult tune at numerous community events over the years, didn’t need to worry. She pulled off a flawless performance that earned hearty applause and cheers from the audience.
“I would give myself a nine,” said Davis, spokeswoman for the Akron-Summit County Public Library. “I was so energized when I walked out and saw the smiling faces.”
While Obama wasn’t there for her performance at the John S. Knight Convention Center — he arrived a short time later — he did thank her when he shook her hand after the event.
“You’re welcome,” she told him, and then added a quick, “Happy birthday!” as he moved on.
Davis had also sung the anthem at the opening of the University of Akron’s InfoCision Stadium, at a Greater Akron Chamber dinner and at several other events for area organizations. She said the performance at the Obama event was more challenging, though, because she didn’t have a band to back her up — and cover up any mistakes.
Davis said she supports Obama because he understands that the United States is a country with “all different people and all different faiths.”
“I believe President Obama respects that,” she said.
Sharing the stage
Jenna Ackerman has been volunteering with the Obama campaign since 2008. She got her biggest volunteer assignment last week.
The president’s office asked her to introduce Obama when he came to the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron on Wednesday.
“Astonishment. Disbelief. Extreme excitement” were her emotions, she said.
The nurse practitioner at Akron General Medical Center worried that she would trip or forget her lines, but she took comfort when others told her he was easy to talk to.
With her husband, Jonathan, three children and other family in the audience, she shook the president’s hand and said that she stood with him.
“We’re proud to welcome the president back to Ohio,” said the Cuyahoga Falls resident. The president exemplifies the “middle-class values of hard work and fair play.”
Cindy Wahl, an Akron neighborhood team leader volunteering for the president’s re-election, was among the official greeters to welcome the president at Akron-Canton Airport.
She said she wished the president a happy birthday. (Obama turns 51 on Saturday.)
“I told him happy birthday and the next time he came, to bring Jon Bon Jovi,” Wahl said. “He said, ‘Would you like a picture? I can get you a signed picture.’ And I said, ‘Absolutely I would.’ ”
She was still excited and joking about her request after the president’s motorcade left the tarmac for the event in Akron.
“Well, I’ve met the president,” Wahl said. “I’ve never met Jon Bon Jovi.”