Birmingham student Caleb Carroll might get a little nervous when he has to talk about himself and his musical talent, but his voice is at ease and inspiring when he sings before a crowd of people.
"I had a little trouble with my voice changing," Carroll said, who started singing the national anthem at sporting events when he was 13-years-old. Two years later, the maturity in his voice goes beyond what one might expect from a 15-year-old high school freshman. "I started with a very high tone, and my voice changed a lot. I had to start picking different songs."
His higher tone wasn't out of pitch in 2014 when Carroll – not yet then a student at Groves High School in Birmingham – sang the national anthem before a basketball game and caught the ear of NBA basketball team owner Dan Gilbert. The performance inspired the billionaire to ask Carroll to sing before two Cleveland Cavaliers events, including a 2015 playoff game. Nor was he nervous when he auditioned and was selected to sing “America the Beautiful” at the 2015 U.S. Open in New York City. In fact, Carroll seems to be at home wherever he sings, be it online, television, or a stadium of sports fans.
"I don't really have trouble singing," he said. "I'm actually a little nervous to talk."
Around Michigan, Carroll has opened games for the Detroit Tigers, Pistons, Eastern Michigan University, Oakland University, and other events. In November, he sang in America's Thanksgiving Day Parade in Detroit, and in March he will be singing before a Detroit Red Wings game.
Performing at professional sporting events also gives Caleb an opportunity to see some of his favorite players in person.
"I sang at a (Golden State) Warriors game. Stephen Curry is my favorite player," said Carroll, who plays basketball and football for Groves. "I would like to sing more for the Oklahoma Thunder. I like Russell Westbrook, too. People say I play basketball like them."
While sporting events offer him a way to showcase his talent, Carroll said his favorite to perform is Christian and inspirational music. It's in the different styles he sings that Carroll's full range as a vocalist is apparent, as it is in his 2015 cover of Mali Music's "Walking Shoes" and others that can be seen on YouTube.
"I like singing Christian music. That's my biggest. I also like inspirational music," Carroll said, who sings with the adult choir at the Life Application Ministries (LAM) Church in Warren, where he is the leader of the Youth Praise Team.
Caleb was about six-years-old when he got involved with singing at the church, where his favorite singer (and mother), Dhamahi Carroll, serves as musical director.
"I started singing young, like he did," she said. "But he has taken it to a whole new level."
Caleb said it was his parents, Dhamahi and Craig, who had the idea to post his videos of him singing on YouTube. Those videos led to requests for him to sing at events, and word spread from there. Today, he said, he hopes to study music in college and make a career out of his talent.
Caleb's mother said it can be challenging to balance all of his interests, but he has his heart in his music.
"He knows it takes a lot of hard work," she said, "and he's up to the challenge."
Photo: Laurie Tennent