From singing music on the streets of Nashville to participating in The Voice competition, Megan Ruger fulfilled another dream of singing the National Anthem in one of her biggest venues yet, the NASCAR race track at Dover, Delaware.
“It’s the toughest song to sing as everyone knows,” Ruger said. “So, to sing it in front of thousands of people and viewers, it is very nerve-wracking but it is also an accomplishment when you complete it.
“When you hit the high notes and there is the intensity of the crowd, it is so neat. And to sing that song is very emotional because I am so respectful of our troops that serve for us.
“I’ve been singing the National Anthem since I was sixteen years old at Veteran’s memorials, concert venues, before main acts, with honor guards. I’ve always sang it since I was young and that’s just been a part of me.”
Ruger is a fan of motorsports, especially NASCAR, although this is her first time at an actual race at the uppermost level of the sport. She also had the ability to prepare and warm up for her National Anthem performance for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race by singing it at the XFINITY race on Saturday as well.
“I love fast cars and speed and danger,” Ruger said. “But this is my actual first NASCAR race and so I’m really excited. I sang the National Anthem in the XFINITY race so I guess that was sort of a warm up of what race day is.
I’ve always gone to stock car races back home and I have a couple of friends that race but nothing of this magnitude.”
Ruger’s journey to the Monster Mile race track at Dover, Delaware has been an interesting, one that has taken her from street performances all the way to the national stage of the television show The Voice.
“I moved to Nashville seven years ago from Wisconsin,” Ruger said. “I had been having a great time playing on Broadway in Nashville, which is the main strip where many singers get their start in Nashville.
I learned a lot there, but I also learned that making a living there is very tough. There are a lot of great singers in Nashville. So, playing for tips was a very interesting lifestyle. You don’t pay your bills unless you make enough tips.
So, when The Voice came around, I decided to do the show to try to take my career to the next level and to move from Nashville to a more nationwide audience. I wanted to win The Voice but I really wanted a car!
But seriously, I wanted a team behind me so that’s why I did the show. It is difficult being a solo artist and having to do everything yourself, like doing my own booking, my social media, being the boss of the band. But now since the show, I have a manager working with me and a booking agent working with me. But I still do a lot on my own, which helps me as a businesswoman and growing artist and an adult.
It’s definitely not easy. I had to get my band ready to go to Richmond where I’m doing a show after I sing the National Anthem. I’ll drive really fast like a NASCAR driver to get there. I really wanted to go out on that track today!”
Ruger is also hoping that her performance will continue to call attention to the cause featured in the NASCAR race at the Monster Mile, the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks.
“Pretty much ever since I’ve been thirteen years old, I’ve babysat for families and I love kids. There is a family I work with where the child has autism,” Ruger said. “I just love working with him because he is so full of joy. It’s amazing to see how the family works together and I hope there is more awareness that comes from this to help families like them.”
“I love working with kids, especially those with special needs. There is a place in my heart for kids like that.”
Ruger acknowledged that she is as passionate about the strength of young women as she is about those with special needs. And she hopes that by singing the National Anthem in front of such a wide audience that she shows that girls truly can do anything.
“I think it’s really important for a female to be strong,” Ruger said. “It should be more equal and girls should realize that they can do the same job that any guy can if you just put your heart, soul and mind into it.
I think with young females today, they just need to find that passion and just go for it. I try to do that with girls in schools and told them to follow their dreams. Every time I sign my name for a younger fan, I always write ‘Follow your dreams’ and I’m super passionate about that.
You can show the world that you are more than they imagined. That’s one of my original songs actually.”
So, what does singing the National Anthem at the NASCAR race in front of one of the biggest crowds, including her family, mean to Ruger?
“If I could sum up how I feel about singing the anthem it would be blessed and grateful,” Ruger said. “I’m carrying my grandpa’s ashes with me. My grandma is watching me so it will be really cool that she will see that I have him with me.
I’m just truly grateful and blessed that I can do what I do every day. And I’m hoping that I can make a change in the world somehow.
I get kind of emotional singing the anthem. It’s just a very powerful song. I try to not over or under sing it.”
“I hope I make Francis Scott Key happy.”