March Madness Voices: The man behind One Shining Moment By: David Barrett

To honor the excitement and history that is the NCAA tournament, will be publishing first-person accounts from different people who have March Madness experiences to share. These March Madness Voices represent the people behind what makes the NCAA tournament one of the most thrilling sporting events of the year. Check back at to read more stories that will be published throughout March.

David Barrett is a singer, songwriter, Emmy Award winning composer and the man behind "One Shining Moment," the anthem that plays after the national champion is crowed each season at the end of the NCAA tournament. Barrett has composed work for other sporting events, as well as films and television programs. Below is his story about what March Madness means to him.

I wrote a song in 1986 entitled "One Shining Moment."

Who knew that this seemingly ordinary morning, this song would transport me through a basketball portal which years later would land me at a Final Four host city - only to look around and think…all these people know my song that was born that strange & wonderful morning in a little farm town outside East Lansing, Michigan…!?!

When I call the morning ordinary I think it draws attention to that days like this don’t arrive and say “…look here, you’re going to write this wonderful song today!” Perhaps I just really paid attention that spring morning. The funky apartment I shared with my friend Ward Kelner was still vintage “boyland” with sparse furniture, books & magazines strewn about. The May morning sun shone no brighter…(at least at first.) Haslett, Michigan, my home at the time, was still yawning awake when I sat down at my rickety piano and put my hands on the keys. But once I put them there, the song just arrived. It was so effortless and complete. I just followed where I was led. It’s a very different sort of concentration, where you are just listening more than thinking. In less than an hour…there she was. I remember getting up from the piano half stupefied and calling a friend and said…“Glenn I just wrote a beauty…” Now I knew this one was special, really special; but Haslett is not exactly a music capital, so my inner glow of satisfaction was somewhat tempered. But I knew she was a beaut…simple as that.

Duke watching One Shining Moment back in 2015.

There were so many twists and turns from there that there is not enough room here to completely describe; suffice to say that I recorded it and sent it to a dear friend, Armen Keteyian, who was writing for Sports Illustrated at the time. Unbeknownst to me, he walked it over to CBS Sports, and said…listen to this. They did. When they initially called me, I thought it was a prank…but soon they convinced me that, no this was indeed CBS out of New York City, and they loved my song. Hmmm. While it was written about basketball of course, they wanted to know if they could use it for the Super Bowl. Why yes you may. The broadcast went long and it never made the air. Ouch.They called me back and repeated that they loved the song, and wanted to use it for their coverage of March Madness. Why yes you may…

It was like the song knew where it was to be and would not be denied.

All from my world headquarters in Haslett Michigan.

UConn watching One Shining Moment in 2014.

Bill Murray might call it a “Cinderella story…” It is fair to say that One Shining Moment swung open a mighty big door which I promptly walked through…ran through…sprinted through…and many of the compositions that I had squirreled away for years now found their way to television and movies. Why suddenly I had talent! And while I continue to compose and create music with all sorts of accolades, that early morning in May, 1986, when I paid profound attention, for a moment…yes a shining moment…everything changed.



Like this magical tournament.

As I walk the streets of these Final Four cities, I’m always struck by the genuine sense of celebration. It is a basketball Mardi Gras. Starry eyed children with colored beads around their necks; limping baby boomers remembering their glory days on the basketball court; women with t-shirts with phrases like…Rock, Chalk Jay Hawk!; and the students - oh yes the students - who wander the streets in collegiate tribes, shouting back & forth to each other.

This is their moment to be young like this…

I have a friend who performs comedy. He has counseled me that making stand-up comedy look easy is difficult to do. “Try it sometime” he tells me over & over again. Well, the NCAA makes hosting this blessed event look easy.

It ain’t…

Hats off to them.

Now I’ll get back to wandering the streets myself sharing stories to my fellow limping friends of the night I scored 32 points against Clarkston High School! Couldn’t miss that night…

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