Daren Small won't be the first person to go from Billings to the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, the home of the Cincinnati Reds.

But Small is not a Billings Mustang, the rookie-level minor league affiliate of the Reds.

Small got his call up to the big leagues because of his voice.

The former Billings Senior High choir director, who graduated from Billings West and student taught at Skyview, will sing the national anthem around 6:58 p.m. (Eastern time) Sept. 20, before the Reds take on the New York Mets.

Small is studying for his doctorate in vocal performance at the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. He received his undergraduate degree from Montana State University. 

Though he has performed the "Star Spangled Banner" many times, admittedly this could be the biggest audience of his career — the ballpark holds 42,319 at capacity. 

Small got the opportunity after having a casual conversation with a neighbor who happened to be part of the Reds' front office. When they learned he had a vocal background, Small  was asked to perform. 

The U.S. national anthem is not the easiest piece of music to sing, according to the Billings native. "I wouldn't start someone out with this piece if they wanted to try singing. It covers a very wide range," Small said. 

Despite his training in performance, he doesn't anticipate his rendition of the song will conflict with the first pitch, scheduled two minutes later. His version will be fairly straightforward, he said.

"It's such an important song. I don't think it should be messed with," Small said. "I'll sing it as it's written."

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