Texas parents defend daughter, 11, after critics blast her rendition of national anthem

The parents of an 11-year-old Texas girl who has been criticized for her rendition of the “Star-Spangled Banner” at a Major League Soccer match are defending their daughter amid “mean and hateful” attacks, they told FoxNews.com.

Harper Gruzins, of Coppell, Texas, admitted it wasn’t her “best performance” at Saturday’s Dallas-Los Angeles soccer match, but said she had trouble hearing herself amid echoes from the public address system and loud cheers from the 22,000 fans in attendance.


“It wasn’t my best performance because I couldn’t hear myself and the blowhorns got me off key,” Harper told FoxNews.com. “But God allowed this to happen, so I know it’s what he wants. So I wouldn’t change it. Next time I hope there’s no blowhorns.”

Gruzins’ performance was characterized by Deadspin.com as the “worst National Anthem rendition ever,” even exceeding the infamously bad performances of singer Steven Tyler and comedienne Roseanne Barr. That prompted Nancy Churnin of the Dallas Morning News to write about the “vitriol” associated with the budding singer-songwriter’s three-minute performance.

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“Remember, they are adults, and they tampered with the song, with Roseanne grabbling her crotch with the misguided idea that everyone would think that was funny,” Churnin wrote of Tyler and Barr. “Harper was off key, but she sang the song proudly, enunciating all the words and putting everything she had into it.”

Gruzins’ father, Karlis, said the “mean and hateful” criticisms will not deter his daughter’s dream to follow in the footsteps of performers like Adele, Christina Aguiliera and Christian musician Jamie Grace.

“We believe in our daughter, we support our daughter,” Karlis Gruzins said. “We think that the things being said about her are mean and hateful. We’re just going to ride it out and support our daughter. That’s our stance on it.”

Kelli Gruzins said her daughter’s performance suffered from technical difficulties, but praised Harper for showing the courage to perform in front of tens of thousands before being old enough to drive or vote.

“She was not used to the echo and she knew once she started,” Kelli Gruzins said of the sound issues. “But we just know she did her best and this is what she loves to do.”

Harper, who also plays the piano, performs frequently in Texas and will sing at the Grapevine Opry in Grapevine on Aug. 18. Karlis Gruzins said his “natural tendency” is to stop his daughter from the appearance following the intense criticism surrounding her performance, but he told FoxNews.com he won’t allow that to happen.

“It’s just really sad that people want to take it to this type of extreme,” he said. “I don’t understand it. My natural tendency is to yank her from everything, but she just loves to do it.”