As Senior Airman Ashley Osborn’s alto tones floated through Chesapeake Energy Arena earlier this month, you could almost hear in the notes the deep appreciation she has for the song she sang prior to the Thunder vs. Houston Rockets game.
“[The national anthem] is such an important song, and having served, it makes it that much more important,” she said shortly after her performance on the Thunder’s Military Appreciation Night.
Osborn, who has been in the Air National Guard since 2007, has always had a love of singing, and as she grew up in southwest Oklahoma City, she also developed a heart for service.
“I’ve always considered myself kind of a patriot – runs in my family. My dad was a draftee in Vietnam; my brother’s an Army Special Forces medic,” she noted. “And I just like the thought of being part of something bigger than who I am.”
Though she serves her country, Osborn says the Air National Guard has really served her.
“The lessons that I’ve learned because of the military are boundless,” she said.
Beyond those life lessons, many opportunities have been afforded her through her service to develop her passion for singing.
In 2008, Osborn deployed for a year with Tops in Blue, a group of Air Force entertainers who travel the world to perform for fellow members of the Air Force. Being able to perform in 42 states and 33 countries was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a lifelong entertainer.
“My parents will tell you I sang my first word, I didn’t speak it,” she smiled. “I did my first church solo when I was about five or six years old, and I was kind of hooked since then.”
She doesn’t take lightly the opportunities she’s had through the Guard, acknowledging that she would never have been able to sing the anthem at an NBA game without them.
“It’s my honor and pleasure to be able to do something that I love, while at the same time representing something that has so much history behind it,” she said.
“Everybody always thanks me for my service, and I feel like that’s not even how it should go. I should thank them for letting me serve.”
CLICK HERE to watch Osborn’s performance.
- Karina Henderson