Security Officer Performs the National Anthem for Stadium Crowds

Jeff Klinck, security officer for Eskenazi Health, doesn't get rattled singing in front of large crowds. “I would rather sing in front of 10,000 people I don’t know,” he says, “rather than sing in front of five people I do know.”

Klinck has been soloing in front of thousands of strangers for more than twenty years. What started as one performance for the Indiana Ice has “blossomed” into singing the national anthem for “every major sports organization in the state except the Colts.” He estimates that he’s performed the anthem between 250 and 300 times.

The song’s importance to Klinck originated with his grandfather, the World War II veteran who helped raise him. “He was a big flag person,” Klinck says. “I knew all flag etiquette from the time I was old enough to comprehend stuff.” When the two watched baseball games at Bush Stadium, his grandfather instructed Klinck to stare at the flag in silence during the anthem.

In fact, staring at the flag caused one of Klinck’s few singing gaffes. He was performing the anthem in one of his earliest solos when the flag distracted him into flipping two of the verses. He had to look away to recover.

While he likes to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” without flourishes, Klinck enjoys holding the note at the end of the “O’er the land of the free” line. “That’s my only claim to fame,” he adds.

The Eskenazi Health security officer has always alternated between the fields of entertainment and security. A music major specializing in vocal performance and trombone at Ball State, he “played and sang all the way through school,” he says, but his disinterest in teaching led him to switch his major to criminal justice. His mother, a clerk for the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD), wasn’t surprised when her son became a jail deputy for the Marion County Sheriff’s Office. Later he worked security at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino (now Horseshoe Indianapolis) for several years before the pandemic. Klinck first considered hospital security while at the sheriff’s office, when he observed colleagues guarding arrested individuals headed to Wishard Hospital.

Klinck never gave up on his music though. He ran karaoke nights, DJ’d and joined bands. He describes being invited to join the Rascal Flatts during a live performance that wound up on Country Music Television (CMT). Klinck says the band’s encouragement kept him singing, especially when their lead vocalist, Gary LeVox, joked, “It’s all fun and games until you take my job, buddy.” Midnight Fire, Klinck’s band, opened for Rascal Flatts a few years later.

In 2007, Klinck started an entertainment company, Jeff K Productions (formerly Jeff K Entertainment), estimating that he’s now DJed for at least 500 weddings as well as corporate events. His commitment to continuing this work on the side — along with officiating and announcing for high school sports — made him opt for weekday over weekend hours at Eskenazi Health.

While he has countless memories from DJing at weddings, Klinck pinpoints a favorite moment, when he played “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life” from the movie “Dirty Dancing.” “It went way better than I thought it was going to,” he says, describing “tons” of guests partnering up and trying to outdo one another with their imitations of Patrick Swayze’s famous lift of Jennifer Grey. Observers were skeptical a boy of five or six could successfully catch the tall girl he’d paired with. Instead, the little boy started running, and the tall girl caught him. “We all lost it,” Klinck said. “He thought he was Superman.”

Although he has been at Eskenazi Health for less than a year, Klinck says he wants to stay long-term. “I like it,” he says. “Everybody that I’ve met, they love it here,” he adds. And as for his music? He has plans. Performing the national anthem for the Indianapolis 500 is on his bucket list, along with singing for the Colts. “I’ve done a lot,” Klinck says. “I’ve still got a lot more to do.”

You can find Klinck’s national anthem performances on his new YouTube channel.

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