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Blues' 'Gloria' moment bittersweet for manager preserving singer's legacy

Kathy Golik says Laura Branigan would've loved being part of St. Louis' celebration

by Cristina Ledra @cledra / Staff Writer

Kathy Golik was drawn to Laura Branigan's voice and her ability to connect with an audience. She never could have predicted in all her years of preserving the singer's legacy, that "Gloria" would've captivated a handful of hockey players from St. Louis and spurred a phenomenon 37 years after the hit song's release.

But there Golik was, in the middle of a raucous Stanley Cup Final watch party at Enterprise Center in a sea of thousands of Blues fans all singing and dancing to that catchy classic about the girl who got caught up in the fast life, just as they had been in at games and in countless videos online since February.

"I think it's great because what I do is all about legacy and it's about carrying her memory forth and her artistry," said Golik, who traveled to St. Louis from the Pittsburgh area for the watch parties. "And when you see a demographic of little toddlers singing and dancing to 'Gloria' up through senior adults having fun, it's the greatest thing."

Golik was a fan of Branigan's like many others in the early 1980s when "Gloria" hit the charts, and with the advent of the internet in the 1990s, she wanted to put all that she had learned about the singer over the years on an unofficial website, something like an online scrapbook. That website eventually became Branigan's official site once she met and got to know Golik, who later became her business manager.

Tweet from @laurabranigan: All READY for @StLouisBlues Game 5!!🙂 GO BLUES!!!🙂💙🎶💛🏒 ~ Kathy Golik, Other Half Entertainment #LGB #PlayGloria #LauraBranigan #Gloria

After Branigan's unexpected death in 2004 of a cerebral aneurysm, Golik's job as business manager took on the additional responsibility of keeping the singer's memory alive, and social media became the one of the best ways to stay connected with fans. It started with a MySpace page, then a Facebook page, and then a Twitter account.

It was on Twitter that Golik got the first notification from a Blues fan in February that the team had started playing "Gloria" in the locker room after they heard it at a bar in Philadelphia.

"It made me smile and I thought, 'Boy isn't that nice,' but I didn't think that much more about it until I started to see more Tweets from fans and then there were articles that came out and once I saw that, I thought, 'There's probably a little more to this story,'" Golik said.

Tweet from @laurabranigan: THANK YOU so much @LmgSTL for sending me the AWESOME shirt and @StLouisBlues magnet...LOVE THEM!🥰 GO BLUES!!!🙂💙🎶💛🏒 ~ Kathy, Other Half Entertainment #stlblues #PlayGloria #LauraBranigan #Gloria

Because the Blues didn't stop winning from they time they first played "Gloria" in February, the song has been played over and over again, and there's no sign of fatigue from fans if it means St. Louis is keeping their run going.

Every time Golik sees another man, woman, or child around St. Louis getting swept up in "Gloria" fever, she thinks about Branigan and her heart gets a little heavy.

"She would've just loved to walk around the arena and talk to people, mingle with the fans," Golik said. "She would've loved singing the national anthem or 'Gloria.' That's the tough part, is that she's not here to share it, but she would just be so humbled by it and so elated."

She describes Branigan as a people person who met every last fan that stuck around after her shows, and unlike the song's subject, led a simple life and never drew attention to the fact that she was a celebrity.

Branigan was a shy girl from Putnam County, about an hour drive north of New York City, who found her calling on the stage of her high school play. When she made it big, she was so thankful for her fans, she referred to them as her other half. The term inspired the name of Golik's company, Other Half Entertainment.

Tweet from @laurabranigan: Sporting this shirt right now at the office...some Branigan Irish luck being sent ���@StLouisBlues��� way!!🙂💙💛🎶🏒 ~ Kathy Golik, Other Half Entertainment #BluesInItToWinIt #stlblues #PlayGloria #LauraBranigan #LauraBraniganGloria

Golik has seen a resurgence of 'Gloria''s popularity in the last few years with an increase of requests for its use, along with other songs from Branigan's catalogue, which Golik hopes fans will explore. But there's nothing she could have ever planned that would've done as much to celebrate Branigan as the "Play Gloria" sensation.

"She would be most happy about how it's brought so much joy to St. Louis and it has really united them," Golik said. "And just look at all the videos that have been made, from little babies to schools singing it in their gymnasium, city hall, bands in school playing it.

"Her jaw would probably drop and she would just wouldn't believe it. I look at all these things, but I'm imagining it as if she were sitting beside me watching it. I know the reaction she would have, she would just be very touched by it."

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