For one high school senior, the school year has started on the right note.
South Setauket resident Jordan Amato, 17, performed the national anthem at Citi Field Sept. 8. While it was the second time she sang at the stadium — the first was the summer of 2018 — this time around she had a special guest with her.
In addition to the more than 100 friends and family members in attendance was Ryan Starace, who was the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Long Island chapter’s Boy of the Year in 2019. Amato and her family invited Ryan and his family to join them at the game after she helped to raise $36,000 for the nonprofit in the 2018-19 school year. Amato was the co-president of the multigenerational fundraising team 3vforacure in raising funds for the LLS Students of the Year campaign.
Sara Lipsky, executive director of the Long Island chapter of LLS, said Amato went above and beyond aiding the nonprofit’s mission of finding cures and supporting patients and their families.
“Raising $36,000 is a feat in itself,” Lipsky said. “Add school and extracurricular activities make it even more remarkable. Now, she continues to carry that passion forward by creating a very special day for a very special boy.”
Amato said even though she usually doesn’t suffer from performance anxiety, the second time around singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Citi Field was nerve-racking. It wasn’t just because of the throng of people hearing her sing, but because there were problems with the sound system, and she only heard the reverb while singing.
“It was kind of terrifying,” she said.
Her father, Steve Amato, thought she did a wonderful job.
“Not because she is my daughter, but she truly has a great voice and her rendition of the national anthem is excellent,” he said.
Overall the Citi Field experiences have been surreal for the family. Her mother, Jacque Amato, said the family has attended many games at the stadium, but it was a different experience walking up from the underground area to the field.
The opportunity to sing at the stadium came about when Amato sang at her grandmother’s funeral Mass. The husband of one of her father’s cousins works at Citi Field, and after hearing her sing he suggested she send in an audition tape.
The singer’s mother said her daughter sang a cappella that day in the church.
“When Jordan got up there to sing, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house,” the mother said.
The singer’s father said to prepare for singing the national anthem at a venue like Citi Field, in addition to her singing lessons, his daughter sang at a Stony Brook University game, entered the Long Island Ducks Anthem Idol — where she won — and The Ward Melville Heritage Organization’s Long Island’s Got Talent. She also won a talent contest where the prize was singing a solo at Carnegie Hall.
Her parents said singing is something that came naturally to her, and when she was in fifth grade, they were surprised when she told them she was going to be singing in a talent show with one of her friends. Before that, they had never even heard her even hum.
Jordan Amato said one day she noticed she could sing well and figured, why not try it?
“I was pretty shy as a kid, so it was kind of unusual for me to be comfortable with singing in front of people, but I found it more comfortable than talking in front of people,” she said.
Last year in addition to balancing her fundraising efforts and singing, the now senior had a 102 unweighted average. Her mother said it’s no surprise she has accomplished so much.
“She has laser focus,” the mother said. “When she wants something, she just puts everything in the basket, and she’s just 100 miles an hour in one direction. She’s very goal oriented. She’s the most organized kid I ever met.”
Jordan Amato is hoping for another successful academic year, and while she’s planning to study singing in college, she said she will most likely go to medical school to become an ear, nose and throat doctor specializing in throat surgeries after shadowing her friends’ parents who are laryngologists last summer. She said the profession is interesting not only due to the doctor helping to heal patients but also training singers to regain their singing voices.
When it comes to trying out something new, Amato had advice for young people.
“Try it out,” she said. “If it doesn’t fit you, it’s not for you.”