Toniann Butler gave a slam-dunk performance on Jan. 23 when she helped kick off a Brooklyn Nets game.
Butler came from her home in Lynbrook to sing the national anthem at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale. The 29-year-old manager of Lynbrook TV has been singing the anthem at various events for three years now, but this was the biggest one yet. Although the Nets lost to the Knicks, 108-103, Butler gave a performance that she will never forget.
“I started singing the national anthem at 9/11 ceremonies, and I gradually started to sing it at more events,” she said. “So I wasn’t really nervous to sing at the Nets game, as I felt prepared.”
Butler said she was really happy to perform at the Coliseum with her friends and family in the crowd. They were supportive and excited to see her sing, she said, adding that she was glad she could be part of the energetic environment in the arena.
“I found their information on Instagram and I called someone who works with the team,” she said. “They were really easy to work with, and I was able to book this performance.”
Growing up in Lynbrook, she took part in school plays. And with the help of “great musical teachers” and private lessons, she said, she performed at the state’s school music association.
“That’s how I started,” Butler said. “It took me time to really practice singing and take things more seriously.”
She said she wished she had taken advantage of more singing opportunities when she was younger, but she is trying to make up for that now. In the past few years she has performed at Lynbrook Oktoberfest, Lynbrook Titans football games, a Wounded Warriors event, a Veterans Day ceremony, and a Patriots Day event. She also sang at a Lynbrook village board meeting.
Lynbrook TV airs board meetings and local events throughout the year. Butler also teaches groups of children to sing. Some of her students sang at the Lynbrook tree lighting in December, and in a showcase at Lynbrook Ground Central Coffee in October.
“I have a group class that’s run at a few schools,” Butler explained. “It’s run at the Lynbrook Recreational Center, To The Stage in Oceanside, Blossoming Behavior, which is a school with kids that have autism, and I also work, engineer, and teach voice lessons at the Loft Sound Studio in Syosset.”
In addition to teaching children how to use their voices, she said, she works with them on overcoming any fear of performing they may have and on putting themselves out there. She lets them know that it’s OK to make mistakes, because they will grow from them.
“When I was young, I didn’t share my voice,” Butler said. “I was scared to do that. By trying to understand music and practice, I was able to build enough confidence to share my voice.”
Along with teaching others, Butler is building a name for herself. She performs at weddings, and is working on new music. Her recordings can be found at SoundCloud.com/ToniannButler.
“I’m excited to share my music and express myself artistically,” she said.
Butler hopes to continue to build her music catalog and to look for more opportunities to perform in the area. As of now, she is telling all of her listeners to “stay tuned.”