Ashleigh Hughes practically "came out singing."
At 2 years old, the Palos Park resident and Palos South seventh grader tried to use restaurant tables as stages, on which to serenade those around her.
"It's all her own thing," said mom, Courtenay Hughes. "It's her gift."
Ashleigh, 13, will perform in front of thousands during a performance of the national anthem at a Chicago Cubs game June 4.
"I'm very scared, but very excited," Ashleigh told Patch.
She's no stranger to the spotlight, as Ashleigh has performed at the school's Fine Arts Fest, Hughes said. She practices each night on a piano in her room.
"I'll keep singing it (the anthem) every day, until I get used to it," Ashleigh said.
The teen applies the same dedication to her singing, to other hobbies and areas of her life. She plays soccer, basketball, softball, and when she’s not practicing, is busy filling out her application for the National Junior Honor Society, and maintaining a strong GPA, Hughes said. She dreams of pursuing a singing career "as long as I can," and then plans to attend medical school.
For now, she learns songs by listening to them on the radio. ("It'll take a few minutes to get it down," she said.) The performance at Wrigley Field is a reward for Ashleigh's determination—which has her 10-year-old brother a little tired of hearing the anthem booming from the bedroom next door.
"We're just really proud of her," Hughes said, of her and husband Kenny.
Kenny Hughes hails from New York, so the Cubs' opponent—the New York Mets—seems particularly fitting. Some District 118 parents have talked about renting a bus to attend the game, as a group, Hughes said. Ashleigh said the nerves aren't getting to her yet, but that she'll need her pre-performance ritual to feel ready.
"My mom always gives me a pep talk," Ashleigh said.
Hughes can't wait to hear Ashleigh's voice carried throughout the stadium.
"I'll be crying on the field," she joked. "I'll be a mess."
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