Dwight Clyde Washington, a.k.a. D.C. Washington. (Joshua Yospyn/For The Washington Post)
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Dwight Clyde Washington, a.k.a. D.C. Washington, 61, regularly sings the national anthem at Nationals and Redskins games. He is also the choir director at his church in Springfield, Va. He lives in Woodbridge.

Have you always been called D.C.?

That’s been my name forever. My grandmother’s edict was that my initials be D.C. My mother picked Dwight Clyde for my name. But no one calls me that except my wife when she is mad at me.

How do you prepare to sing the anthem?

I go over the words constantly in my mind, because the last thing I want is to be an ESPN highlight of a guy who forgot the words to the anthem. The rhyming scheme of the anthem is so strange because [it] is not even every other line. It’s every other phrase. You can get really confused quickly. And you’ve got 30,000 people who all think they know the words, and they will all know the one you miss.

What is the hardest part of singing the anthem?

Starting on the right pitch. I always use a pitch pipe. I never, ever think I know the note, because if you start too high you have nowhere to go. It’s a big range from the lowest note to the highest. The rockets’ red glare can become really ugly.

Your version of the anthem is more uptempo than most. Why is that?

It’s an anthem. It’s not a ballad. Sort of a military march tempo is what I try to keep it at. The very first time I did it for the Redskins, the guy who managed the on-field activities said 90 seconds is all I need. I worked for weeks to get it to 90 seconds. I’ve kept it at that for the most part. When it becomes too slow it becomes about me, and I never want it to be about me.

Is there an anthem gig you covet, say, the Super Bowl or a presidential inauguration?

No. I [sang] at a friend’s Little League game. I am just as happy to do that for them. I’m a pretty introverted person. I enjoy performing the anthem, but I’m not an entertainer or a performer.

Which audience is the toughest to please: Nats fans, visiting Philly sports fans, or your fellow congregants?

[Laughs.] My congregants love me. I would say Philly fans. At least in the old days. They’ve become rather tame lately.

Has anyone ever told you you were pitchy?

[Laughs.] No one has. I’m a pretty big guy. Although I’m as gentle as a lamb, I look pretty intimidating.

Do you sing in the shower?

Yes. But I don’t normally sing the anthem in the shower.

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