High school junior wows Lawrence crowd
Baker calls performance ‘very, very special’
ALLISON CASTILLO, a junior at Methuen High School, got the call on New Year’s Eve.
The singer that Lawrence City Clerk Diane LeBlanc had lined up to sing “God Bless America” at Monday night’s inauguration of city councilors and school committee members couldn’t make it. A possible stand-in also said she wasn’t available.
LeBlanc heard about Castillo from one of the people she called looking for help. Castillo’s family had recently moved from Lawrence to Methuen. LeBlanc called her and asked if she could fill in. Castillo had never sung “God Bless America” before, but she agreed to give it a try.
So on Monday night, there she was on the stage with Gov. Charlie Baker, US Rep. Lori Trahan, Lawrence Mayor Brian DePeña, and other dignitaries. If she wasn’t nervous enough already, there was a glitch with the sound system that meant she had to stand in front of the crowd for nearly a minute waiting until the problem was fixed. No one spoke during the long wait, heightening the tension.
Gov. Charlie Baker was also impressed. “That young woman had never sung that song before and she just crushed it,” he said. “Coming on the heels of all the anxiety and loss and disruption and isolation that has been life under COVID – especially in a community that was hit as hard as Lawrence – yeah, it was very, very special.”