When Erika Cabral began singing the Star Spangled Banner at basketball games during her years as a student at Greenport High School, she never knew where that song would take her.
Last week, the 36-year-old music teacher performed the National Anthem at the Long Island Association’s Fall Luncheon, where among the more than 1,000 people to hear her voice was retired Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.
It was the third time she sang the anthem at an LIA event with a famous keynote speaker. She previously performed in front of presidential candidates and former governors Jeb Bush and Mitt Romney.
“[Wednesday’s] performance was especially nerve-wracking just because [Mr. Jeter has] heard everyone under the sun that are the best singers ever sing that song,” Ms. Cabral said. “It actually was a more packed event. I think the two other events that I did were around 900 people and this one was around 1,200 people. So more nerve-wracking, but also more exciting.”
Prior to each performance, Ms. Cabral was treated to a VIP experience where she got to meet the guests of honor. The nicest and “most open to talk to,” she said, was Mr. Romney. Her favorite speaker to listen to was Mr. Jeter.
“He was captivating,” the Cutchogue resident said. “He was just a very smart, very respectable person … He was really a class act. He’s just a nice guy.”
Ms. Cabral was originally invited to perform at a 2014 luncheon after LIA president Kevin Law saw her singing at a holiday party at the North Fork Country Club.
“She’s the best singer I have ever come across here on Long Island,” Mr. Law said. “We were lucky to have her.”
Numerous guests at Wednesday’s luncheon validated his opinion, as praises of Ms. Cabral were the second most talked about topic of the event. The first, he said, was about how great Derek Jeter was.
The LIA is a business organization “that acts as Long Island’s chamber of commerce,” Mr. Law said. The luncheons are fundraisers where people from local businesses, as well as national figures, are treated to showcase of what the island has to offer.
These events are not Ms. Cabral’s first brush with celebrities, however. After graduating from Northeastern University with a degree in Music Industry, she moved to New York City and began touring across the Northeast.
“I was really just trying to make a name for myself in the music industry,” she said. “I did a lot of song writing and I did a lot of tours with Radio Disney and all the clubs in the city.”
Allure, Jordan Knight, Jesse McCartney and Lil’ Romeo are just a few of the names she’s toured with. In some cases she opened for them. In other instances, they opened for her. She has also performed at Mohegan Sun arena during basketball games and performed the national anthem at professional hockey games.
The Star Spangled Banner is definitely one of her most sung, but the Greenport music teacher said her favorite songs to perform are “At Last” by Etta James and “Summertime” by Ella Fitzgerald.
She got her start at a young age when her dad, Jerry Tuthill, put her onstage with the bands at Claudio’s Clam Bar, which he co-owns, and she still continues to perform there, as well as other places, today.
“I’m way more comfortable performing in front of thousands of people than speaking in front of thousands of people,” Ms. Cabral said. “I love performing, that’s my thing. I love performance, everything about it.”
Photo Caption: Erika Cabral holds up a picture of the guest of honor at the Long Island Association luncheon she performed at earlier this week (Credit: Courtesy).