Baby, he’s a firework.
While 4th of July pyrotechnics illuminate the night sky on Wednesday, a 10-year-old from Harlem will light up hearts and minds with his voice — and a mighty musical message.
He’s co-starring with Kelly Clarkson and the West Point Band and Glee Club in Macy’s annual Independence Day spectacular airing on NBC at 8 p.m.
“I’m really excited,” said Devin, who’s in the boys’ choir at the Church of the Transfiguration in Manhattan — its director brought him to the attention of Macy’s. He and takes music lessons through Opportunity Music Project programs.
The fifth grader at Harlem Village Academy will perform the patriotic standard “This Is My Country” before more than 6 million viewers.
The song, written in 1940, honors homegrown Americans (“This is my country, land of my birth”) in its first verse and immigrants (“This is my country, land of my choice”) in a later verse.
Devin is singing the words in that later verse.
“It’s a feat to reinvent and rearrange these classics,” said Wesley Whatley, creative director of Macy’s entertainment group. “We like to include moments that are big as well as introspective and reverent.
“The first verse of ‘This Is My Country’ is well-known,” said Whatley. By having Devin sing the later verse, he said, “we’re inviting people to listen to a song that’s very personal.”
And making a political statement about what it means to be an American.
Ask Devin. “To me the song means that this is my country, but not only mine,” he said. “Part of it is mine. But we all have to share.”
That musical takeaway has assumed both urgency and topicality at the time in America.
“Given the current political climate, for Devin to sing these words and the visibility of a brown child doing that on America’s birthday is monumental,” said his mom, Desiré Hardison, who’ll be watching with Devin’s dad and his little brother.
It’s an added thrill, said the New York-born mom, because her late father, as well as aunts and uncles, served in various branches of the military.
For the young soloist, it’s another day of singing – which is as natural as breathing.
“I sing most of the time,” said Devin, adding that he also likes math, track and field, and Monopoly.