A few thousand votes poured in. Then a few thousand more. Then another thousand or two.
One for the adjunct professor, one for the nurse, one for the music teacher and one for the accountant: four finalists who formed an unlikely pairing after they were selected from hundreds of other submissions. As the voting totals swelled past 10,000 one thing became clear - there couldn't be just one winner.
That's why, the Nashville Predators are thrilled to announce their search for an anthem singer won't stop at one, but instead will bestow the honor to all four finalists. As their varied occupations and backgrounds indicate, the four singers will each bring something unique to Smashville during the 2017-18 season.
On Wednesday, a few tears were shed to go along with some exclamations of elation as Tamica Harris, Cathy Mullins, Katie Ohh and Keesha Rainey received a call to say they'd be honoring their nation prior to Predators home games this year; something each of them described as a dream come true.
Video: Hear from anthem finalist Tamica Harris
Tamica Harris (Occupation: Adjunct Professor)
Expected Debut: Tuesday, Oct. 17 Avalanche vs. Predators
Favorite Song to Sing: "I Will Always Love You" by Whitney Houston
Fun Fact: When I was younger, as a student at the W.O. Smith Community Music School, I sang in a concert with Shania Twain, Aaron Neville and Dolly Parton.
"I'm almost speechless. It's just an honor," Harris, a native of Nashville, said. "I'm just so happy to share this experience with the other ladies. Just being a part of Nashville and loving my city so much, and being a part of the Predators organization, just representing them, being able to sing and share my gift and connect with the fans, I'm just so excited and honored."
Video: Hear from finalist Cathy Mullins
Cathy Mullins (Occupation: Music Teacher, Worship Leader)
Expected Debut: November 2017
Favorite Song to Sing: "God Bless America" by Irving Berlin
Fun Fact: I'm a Gold and Blue Star mother and a grandmother.
Cathy Mullins, whose son died in 2011 while serving as an infantryman in Afghanistan, will take part in the Predators' various military nights throughout the season. Her son, Brandon, was a huge Predators fan and when Cathy's friends learned of the Predators anthem competition, they signed her up, thinking this would be the perfect way for Cathy to honor her son and country.
"This is so cool. I didn't even put my name in, it was the hockey moms in Owensboro," Mullins said. "They knew I could sing it and that this was a way to honor him. They were like, 'You're supposed to do this. You're supposed to be connected to this hockey team. Brandon loved them, and you can't let this opportunity pass you by. I love the Preds, so I'm so glad I get to be with them in this way now."
Video: Hear from anthem finalist Katie Ohh
Katie Ohh (Occupation: Registered Nurse, Songwriter)
Expected Debut: Thursday, Oct. 12 Stars vs. Predators
Favorite Song to Sing: Back-to-back double feature of Mariah Carey's "Always Be My Baby" and Celine Dion's "It's All Coming Back To Me Now" on the mic at Santa's Pub!
Fun Fact: I competed on the NBC television show "The Winner Is" during the summer of 2013.
"I've lived in Nashville for a better part of a decade and it's been incredible to see the growth of hockey," Ohh, who has performed previously at several Predators games, said. "I am from the Pittsburgh area, but my home is Nashville and I am a Predators fan through and through.
"I've never seen anything like the Predators at home with their fans. I couldn't believe what it looked like outside the arena in the playoffs. It was incredible. It truly is a hockey city now; everyone is downtown sporting their Predators Gold. It's an amazing to see everyone on board and supporting their team in the Predators.
Video: Hear from anthem finalist Keesha Rainey
Keesha Rainey (Occupation: Singer/Songwriter and Accountant)
Expected Debut: Tuesday, Oct. 24 Flames vs. Predators
Favorite Song to Sing: I love singing Whitney Houston songs and songs I have written.
Fun Fact: I played fast pitch softball from the age of 6 to college.
Keesha Rainey, a Nashville native and singer songwriter, in addition to being an accountant, sang with Tamica Harris for several years, with Harris serving as one of Rainey's backup singers. Rainey said she didn't know Harris was a fellow anthem competitor until the final 11 finalists were announced. From there, the two have leaned on one other during the ups and downs of the past couple months of competition.
"[Tamica] is an amazing singer which is why we first met and then we just developed a friendship from there. It's so awesome we both get to do this now," Rainey said. "I'm excited for [what's ahead]. Even just the feeling of the preseason game, the crowd and all eyes being on you while you're singing… I'm just excited. I know it's going to be even more of that same feeling when I sing during the regular season. I cannot wait. I can't wait to see the crowd and honor our country."