Inauguration ‘voice’ has local ties

Posted: January 21, 2013

Courtney Williams (above) will be an announcer at President Barack Obama’s inauguration today at the Capitol. He is married to Winchester native Stacey Slaughter Williams.

WINCHESTER — You won’t see him at today’s presidential inauguration, but you will hear him.

Courtney Williams’ “deep bass booming voice” has once again earned him the job of being an announcer for President Barack Obama’s public inauguration ceremony, according to his wife, Stacey Slaughter Williams, a 2003 graduate of Winchester’s Handley High School.

“You don’t actually see him,” she said in a phone interview. “He’s the narrator. It’s called ‘voice of God work.’”

Williams’ duties at the inauguration include introducing the commander in chief before he takes the oath of office.

“It’s an incredible honor,” the 37-year-old chief petty officer said in a rich, low voice.

A Tennessee native, Williams has been in the Navy for 16 years and is currently the concert moderator for the United States Navy Band.

He’s often asked to serve as the announcer at high-level ceremonies, and his resume includes Obama’s first inauguration in 2008 and the dedication of the William J. Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Ark., in 2009.

“He’s in very high demand,” his wife boasted proudly, adding that her husband’s pipes have earned him the unofficial title of “the voice of the Navy.”

The Williamses were married in September in Winchester and live in Annandale. The bride, a recruiter for a government contractor, is the daughter of Steve and Debbie Slaughter, whose family business is Frederick Block, Brick and Stone on Martinsburg Pike in Frederick County.

For Williams, being an announcer at the inauguration means hours of preparation, including real-time rehearsals complete with vehicle caravans and security details.

He calls the inauguration “I-Day.”

“There’s a lot of pressure, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes,” Williams said. “Things never go quite as planned, so you have to be able to think on your feet.”

He’s invisible to the crowds because his microphone is positioned next to the glass door that leads onto the dais.

“I’m the disembodied voice you hear,” he said.

Though her husband feels the strain of the 12- and 13-hour inauguration rehearsals, she said he “forgets all that” on Inauguration Day.

“It’s a very proud moment for him,” she said.

But his wife won’t be there to witness the outdoor spectacle — she plans to watch the inauguration on TV.

“It will be much warmer,” she said, laughing.

— Contact Cynthia Cather Burton at cburton@winchesterstar.com