Coast Guard Band vocalist Megan Weikleenget joins service band chorus for Super Bowl performance
Megan Weikleenget, the Musician 1st Class vocalist for the United States Coast Guard Band, has sung all over the world and for all sorts of dignitaries. On Sunday, she can add Peyton Manning and Cam Newton to the list.
Weikleenget will be one of 33 vocalists from the five uniformed services bands who will sing “America the Beautiful” before Super Bowl 50 — and her participation makes her the academy’s first-ever representative at a Super Bowl.
“I’m just excited for me and for the band,” Weikleenget said during a phone call Wednesday, the day before she flew to San Francisco for the game. “On one hand, it’s like walking into the unknown in terms of the profile for the band. On the other, I have to think of it as just another day at work; this is our job and we perform as well as we can in all sorts of situations.”
Weikleenget says she was in rehearsal with one of the smaller Coast Guard Band ensembles when band director Adam Williamson walked in and asked if he could have a word with her.
“I said, ‘Sure,’ but I had no idea what was going on,” Weikleenget says. “And he said, ‘You’re going to the Super Bowl. You’ve been requested to sing with a service band chorus, and we’ll do everything we can to get you there.’”
A versatile soprano who joined the Coast Guard Band in 2010, Weikleenget holds a bachelor of music degree in vocal performance and music education from the Crane School of Music at SUNY Potsdam and a master of music in vocal performance from the New England Conservatory. In the Coast Guard Band, Weikleenget has sung in such styles as classical, jazz and musical theater and, over the course of her career, performed in such elite venues as Carnegie Hall and the National Theater and Concert Hall in Taiwan.
The Super Bowl takes place in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., home of the National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers — and, yes, Weikleenget is a football fan.
“I grew up watching Bills’ games in Buffalo, so there’s not too much to say about their legacy other than civic pride,” she says, referring to the Bills’ legacy of having lost four Super Bowls in a row. She says her husband, Ethan, is an even bigger football fan, and she wishes he could have made the trip with her.
“We’ve got two little ones, Hannah and Luke, so he’s going to stay home with them. But they’ll be watching,” Weikleenget says.
Weikleenget isn’t exactly sure what time the service band chorus’ performance takes place, but it is scheduled to be part of the national television coverage.
“All I know for sure is that it’s a 33-piece chorus, and I know when we rehearse and what time kickoff is,” she says. “We do get to rehearse in the stadium, so that’s exciting.”
Asked if she’d climb onstage and join Coldplay, the platinum-status British pop band headlining the game’s halftime entertainment, if invited, Weikleenget laughs. “I don’t see that happening, but I am a fan. A Coldplay album was one of the first CDs I bought as a teen,” she says.
As far as inter-service camaraderie goes, Weikleenget says she anticipates total cooperation and some familiarity. Various service band vocalists get together once a year in Washington, D.C., to rehearse joint-chorus material in case of a state funeral, so many of the singers know each other.
“Plus, it’s funny how these bands work,” she explains. “Some of our members might have been in the Air Force Band, for example, and a lot of us know one another or know someone who knows a member of another service band. So, before something like the Super Bowl, we might ask for each other’s numbers and establish contact before we get together.”
Weikleenget says one of the things she’s most proud of about the Super Bowl appearance is that it’s a big boost for the service bands and the music they represent.
“Two years ago, (opera star) Renee Fleming sang the national anthem before the Super Bowl, and it was such a huge deal for the classical music world,” she says. “In that spirit, it was just so nice that someone thought of us being there. It’s important for us, and it’s an honor for me to represent the Coast Guard.”
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