She has performed before concert audiences and sung for family and friends in her back yard. She even sang for the Washington Redskins before a home game.

But Dana Victor said nothing was more exciting than the day last month when she stepped onto the baseball diamond at Camden Yards and sang the national anthem before a crowd of 20,978 Baltimore Orioles fans.

Was she nervous?

"Not at all," said Victor, 46, of Annapolis. "I focused on the flag and thought about the patriotism of being able to sing this song and of being in America."

Victor won the opportunity to sing the anthem after sending an audition tape to the Orioles organization, which each year uses the tapes to select singers for each of its home games. In her audition tape, Victor sang the national anthem a cappella.

Monica Pence, a spokeswoman for the Orioles, said Victor's voice was stunning enough to earn her an invitation to sing at the ballpark.

"Even though I had [sung] in a stadium [previously], I had never done it for the Orioles," Victor said. "I was ecstatic."

So were Victor's family members and friends. Relatives accompanied her to the game. Back in Warren, Ohio, where she grew up, senior citizens went to a local restaurant where they watched their hometown girl perform on television.

The experience befits a woman who has spent much of her life singing and entertaining crowds at big and small venues, from churches to nightclubs.

"I can't imagine not having music as a part of my life," Victor said. "I grew up with it. I'll never stop."

Victor sings with the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldiers' Chorus and is the lead female vocalist with the Annapolis-based Spa Creek Jazz Band.

She also works as a vocal and piano teacher and has learned to sing in several languages, in part so she can perform at international weddings.

Although Victor has devoted much of her life to music, making a living at performing has not always been easy. The big-time success that major entertainers enjoy has eluded her. But had she hit the big time with her secular music, Victor said, she might not have been able to reach her longtime and devoted fans: the men and woman who gravitate toward her spiritual songs.

"When I sing, I'm really praying, and when I'm singing, it's for the glory and love of my music," Victor said. "It's the mind, heart and music coming out, and I feel like it really affects people."

It certainly did May 5 when Victor, dressed in a black pant suit adorned with her signature jeweled pin in the shape of the U.S. flag, stepped before the crowd and belted out the national anthem.

Singing "The Star-Spangled Banner" was not difficult. She had practiced so many times in the past for fun.

She even went into the studio to record herself singing it so she would have a guide by which to practice and improve her delivery.

On game day, she sang the anthem just as she had on her recording. Aside from a slight echo in the ballpark, Victor said, she felt her performance was a hit.

"It wasn't a packed crowd, and [the echo] was a challenge," said Victor, who had a minute and a half to perform. "But it was exhilarating."

Dale Ciuffreda, 69, of Annapolis thought so, too. Although she may be partial because of her relationship to Victor, Ciuffreda said watching her daughter-in-law sing the national anthem moved her.

"It's like the hairs stood up on the back of my neck," Ciuffreda said. "She could have had me in tears."

Dana Victor sings the national anthem May 5 at Camden Yards.