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Blues anthem singer doing his part to fuel Stanley Cup run

Glenn whipping up home fans during playoffs for final time before retiring after 19 seasons

by William Douglas @WDouglasNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Glenn belts out national anthem

DAL@STL, Gm2: Glenn sings the Game 2 national anthem

R2, Gm2: Long-time Blues national anthem singer, Charles Glenn, performs the Star-Spangled Banner prior to Game 2 against the Stars

  • 02:04 •

WASHINGTON -- Charles Glenn doesn't want a gold watch when he retires as the national anthem singer for the St. Louis Blues.

"I want a Stanley Cup ring," Glenn said. "I want it so heavy that I can't lift up my right hand."

Glenn said he's doing his part to help the Blues during the Stanley Cup Playoffs by whipping up the crowd inside Enterprise Center with stirring performances of the U.S. national anthem before home games.

"You've seen some games where they have the anthem singer sing and they're weak and the audience is not fired up," Glenn said "I want it to be at a peak where they are just screaming, and they'll have to buy new seats. I want to bring the energy to a complete fanfare just before they drop the puck. If I do that, I've done my job."

The Blues announced in early April that Glenn would retire after 19 years of singing the "The Star-Spangled Banner" and "O Canada" at home games. But the 64-year-old won't put down his microphone until the Blues' Stanley Cup Playoffs run ends. 

The Blues are tied 2-2 with the Dallas Stars in the best-of-7 Western Conference Second Round heading into Game 5 in St. Louis on Friday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, SN360, TVAS). 

Glenn will take the microphone on Friday in what could possibly be his last game. But he isn't thinking that way; He hopes to keep singing into June.

"We don't use the word 'elimination' around here," he said. 

Glenn has become a favorite among Blues fans by delivering a powerful but relatively straightforward version of "The Star-Spangled Banner."

He's got nothing against show-stopping anthem performances like the late Marvin Gaye's at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game in Inglewood, California, or the late Whitney Houston's at the 1991 Super Bowl in Tampa. It's just not his style.

"Sometimes you hear anthem singers sing and it will last three minutes," said Glenn, a tenor. "It's not a hit song, it is an anthem. An anthem means everybody sings, so you try to make it easy so everybody can sing it with you. I'll put a little bit of flair in there, but not too much."

Glenn said he keeps track of other anthem singers around the NHL. He ranks Carnell "Golden Pipes" Johnson, a former singing gondolier at The Venetian in Las Vegas who performs for the Vegas Golden Knights, as his favorite.

"He is fantastic," Glenn said of Johnson. "His power, his pitch, his tone, his energy, it's impeccable. It's all up there."

Glenn also enjoys listening to retired U.S. Army Master Sgt. Caleb Green, who shares anthem duties for the Washington Capitals with Army Sgt. Maj. Bob McDonald, as well as Sonya Bryson-Kirksey, a retired Air Force sergeant who sings for the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

Glenn and Bryson-Kirksey use the recognition they've received as anthem singers to help raise awareness about multiple sclerosis, a chronic and often debilitating disease that affects the body's central nervous system. Glenn was diagnosed with MS seven years ago. Bryson-Kirksey learned she had the disease four years ago.

"You can't let it say, 'Well, I can't do anything because I have MS,'" said Glenn, who helps organize an annual "Voices for the Cure" charitable concert. "I'm retiring, but I've been diagnosed for seven years. Yes, it is getting a little bit harder to maneuver from the ice to the concrete and some days are easier than others."

Bryson-Kirksey established the Sonya Bryson Voices of Hope Foundation, a nonprofit organization that provides support to programs that help families who have been affected by MS.

The singers spoke by phone for the first time recently, exchanged videos of their anthem performances and talked about living with MS.

"Basically, we just encouraged each other," Glenn said. "We just gave positive energy toward each other."

Glenn said he'd love to sing a duet with Bryson-Kirksey at his charity concert someday. But it's playoff time now, and he has only one thing on his mind.

"I want a ring," he said. 

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