BY JAMES RUSSELL
TRAVERSE CITY —
A local girl is headed to the big leagues.
Jenna Elsenheimer, 12, of East Bay Township, is slated to sing the national anthem and "America the Beautiful" to packed crowds this Sunday at Comerica Park when the Tigers take on the Colorado Rockies in a Father's Day match up.
It's a big gig, but Jenna is no stranger to performing. She's been singing on stage since she was a toddler, often with her dad who performs at local venues around Traverse City.
Over the past two years, she sang the national anthem at various veterans and sporting events, and recently competed in the Danny Boy and Kalkaska Idol competitions.
"I guess I'm still a little bit nervous, but I'm excited that I'm going to be able to do something like this," Jenna said. "I like telling people that I'm going to sing at a Tiger game."
A friend of Jenna's mother Angel suggested she audition for a chance to perform, but a short timeline prevented them from making the trip to Detroit. Instead, they submitted a YouTube video of Jenna singing at the State Street Grille last year. That was enough to get the Tigers' attention.
Two weeks later, they received an invite to perform at an early-season game, but Angel wanted to be sure extended family and friends could make the trip. So it was bumped to Father's Day, which holds special importance for the Elsenheimers this year.
"My dad is failing in health ... and he's always been a huge Tiger fan," Angel said. "After I talked to the guy again and explained about my dad, he suggested Father's Day. I said, 'Oh my word, the stars are aligning. This is crazy.'"
Jenna's papa, Harry Pletcher, will be on the field with her on Sunday, cheering her on. The idea of singing for her grandfather made the daunting venue less of an obstacle.
"I asked her, would she do this for papa? And she said she'd do this for papa," Angel said.
Jenna also is a budding entrepreneur in addition to her singing career. She raises money for the Humane Society through various endeavours like lemonade stands, baby-sitting and dog walking. She also sells recycled 3-D movie theater glasses that she repaints with nail polish designs.
But singing is her main passion.
"She literally sings 24/7 to the point where I have to tell her to be quiet," Angel said.
Jayla, her 9-year-old sister, agreed.
"Sometimes when we're sleeping, I'll hear Jenna just belting out singing. She sings in bed a lot," she said.
But she has no plans to be the next American Idol. Fame and fortune are the last things she wants. Right now, she is thinking of becoming a music teacher.
"I guess I don't really know yet what I want to do, but I think I'm going to do something involving singing," she said.
The Tigers game starts at 1:05 p.m. Sunday. Jenna will perform the National Anthem before the start of the game, and "America the Beautiful" during the seventh inning stretch. The game will be broadcast on Fox Sports Net.