ST. LOUIS — He could be considered a franchise MVP, delivering one of the top performances for the St. Louis Blues night in and night out.
"They used to call me the secret weapon," he says.
Many call him a St. Louis treasure.
Charles Glenn has been singing the national anthem and "When the Blues Go Marching In" for the Gateway City’s hockey team for more than 13 years now. Etched into the club’s history, Glenn is a fan favorite.
"It’s real special," he says, gushing. "It’s a real blessing."
A totally unexpected blessing. Glenn, 59, never dreamed his singing career would take him to the Scottrade Center nearly every week each winter.
"If you would have told me 20 years ago that I would be in St. Louis signing the national anthem for the Blues," he says, ‘I would say, ‘Forget it, that’s a joke.’"
And his journey to the ice almost began as such. He was working part-time with the Internal Revenue Service when he got an audition with the Blues. It started fine, but after the first few lines of his performance, the microphone went out. "I walked off and thought, ‘Wow, I blew that audition,’" Glenn recalls. "They called me the next day and said, ‘Can you do the opener?’"
Glenn won the hearts of Blues fans right off the bat. He remembers his first game in October 2000, when the Blues played the Minnesota Wild. "I’d never even heard of the Minnesota Wild," he says with a laugh.
St. Louis won that night, and the game after, and the game after that.
"There was a while that I sang 13 or 14 games in a row that they won," he says. "And got a lot of buzz about that."
Hence, the secret weapon.
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Hundreds of games later, Glenn has become the Blues’ go-to guy, win or lose.
Coincidentally, one of Glenn’s favorite memories is from a game the Blues lost. "I know that sounds weird," he says. "But we were playing Vancouver and it was the third game, we already lost two games in Vancouver. They told me, ‘Go out there, rally the troops, get the crowd stirred up.’
"I ran out and gave a speech and sounded like an old reverend. The whole place just went crazy, the building was shaking. I never have heard this place that loud."
And each season the fans go crazy over him, as Glenn — now a full-time musician who runs Glenn Co. Entertainment, working with other artists to organize and entertain at parties, special corporate events and weddings — sings at about 80 percent of the Blues’ home games each year. And the fans love it.
If you have the pleasure of taking a stroll around Scottrade some night with THE Charles Glenn, you will see how he brings joy to fans. Their faces light up when he walks by and gives each person a jolly hello.
That demeanor, along with his powerful voice, have landed him other gigs in the sports world, from boxing to rodeo, football and baseball, meeting the likes of Don King, Aeneas Williams, Marshall Faulk, Ozzie Smith and Willie McGee.
But Glenn always returns to hockey, a sport he has grown to love.
"I was never a hockey fan," he says, until one night after a performance when he was invited to stay and watch a game. "I was hooked."
Glenn got his whole family hooked as well. His daughter was even part of the Blue Crew at one time, and his brother, he says, was one of the Note’s biggest fans. "He’d stand in the middle of the aisle during playoffs and scream, ‘Why aren’t you yelling?!’ He loved it."
"After I sing the anthem I always point up to the sky," Glenn explains. "That goes out to my brother, who was a big hockey fan, and to my mother, who was an opera singer. And to all of my family that are up there and, of course, Jesus."
Glenn feels that hockey has given him so much, and he makes a conscious effort to give back.
Charles Glenn remembers his brother and mother, among others, after each performance.
"Because of these hockey games, a lot of my local gigs come from that," he says. "I’d say 85 percent of my weddings come from season-ticket holders or hockey fans."
And so Glenn often gives Blues tickets to kids in the neighborhood, church members or people who have never been to a hockey game.
That’s Charles Glenn, the kind of person who would welcome you into his home and invite you to make it your own.
His home just so happens to be the Scottrade Center.