University employee sings National Anthem at Lakers game

By Laura Fink

Sherrika Ellison has come a long way from singing in a church choir as a five-year-old, to performing the National Anthem at a Los Angeles Lakers game on April 11 at 9:30 p.m.

“It was truly by the grace of God that I was chosen to sing at the Los Angeles Lakers game,” said Ellison. “A few months ago, I spoke with a friend who was able to assist me in contacting the person who is responsible for booking the National Anthem singers for the Los Angeles Lakers. At that particular time, they were not able to put me on the schedule to sing at a game.”

After waiting patiently, Ellison received a call from the Los Angeles Lakers two weeks ago asking her to perform.

Ellison is a University graduate and employee from Urbana. While attending the University, she received a bachelor’s degree in Speech Communication, and a master’s degree in Human Resource Education. Singing has been a hobby of hers since she was only five years old.

“Sherrika grew up in The Church of the Living God,” said Pamela Griham, Ellison’s mother. “She started singing in the choir and she loved taking all the solos she could. She loved being out there where everyone could see her. Anything the church had going on, she was in it.”

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    Griham also said that Ellison has always wanted to be a singer. Ellison has made headway in her dreams with a few other remarkable performances.

    She said her most memorable performance was winning the Showtime at the Apollo on Tour Competition at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign. After winning, she traveled to Harlem, N.Y., to perform in the real Apollo Theatre.

    “To sing on the same stage at the Apollo Theatre where so many musical legends were born was truly an experience that has blessed my life and continues to serve as motivation to myself to keep pushing forward towards my dreams,” said Ellison.

    Two other important performances of Ellison’s include taking part in the musical, “Ain’t Misbehavin” at the Virginia Theatre in Champaign, which she refers to as her “breakthrough performance.” She also sang the National Anthem at the Illinois versus Arizona basketball game at the United Center on Dec. 8, which was an experience she said she will never forget.

    Ellison said that her personal influences, musical or non-musical, were Patti LaBelle, Aretha Franklin and her mother. Unfortunately, her mother is unable to attend her performance on Friday, but her guidance and advice remains constant.

    “I’ve always told Sherrika to strive for what she wants,” said Griham. “I’ve encouraged her every day to do her best, follow her dreams, and most importantly, to put God first.”