"I haven’t even been to a live NHL game so I get to sing at my first game!" Valley songbird Whitney Williams is thrilled to be going to Vancouver this week to sing the national anthem at the Vancouver Canucks vs. Edmonton Oilers game this Saturday, Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. at Rogers Arena. The game is being televised on Sportsnet 1. Williams knows a bit of what’s expected because she’s sung at Capitals and Islanders games, but this is the big leagues.
She got there by taking part in the Rock the Rog competition about a year ago to find promising anthem singers for games at Rogers Arena.
"I sent in a YouTube video of the Star Spangled Banner and O Canada, that was what the requirements were. My brother said I had to do it so I did. "I was lucky enough to make the top 20. Then it was open to a public voting and I got into the top 10 after that," she said.
That elite group went to Rogers Arena where they sang for a panel of judges like Mark Donnelly, Mr. O Canada, the singer who performs the anthem for the Canucks normally.
"I didn’t actually win the competition. It was actually another girl from the Island, which is awesome. But then they let us know that they would contact us to sing at a game sometime.
"I got my call a couple of weeks ago. I was very, very, very surprised and very, very, very excited because my family watches a lot of hockey; my brother [Leighton] plays for Kerry Park Islanders," she said.
So, what happens when she gets over to Vancouver? "I’m taking one of my two little brothers to the game. I will have to be there at 4:30 for a sound check in the arena. Then I get to hang around, sing the anthem and then I can watch the rest of the game. We get two tickets, but I don’t know where they are. It will be a surprise," she said.
Williams is a UVic student, studying opera in the School of Music in Victoria and looking at following a career in music.
"My plan would be eventually to go off to Europe, where the music culture is really rich. The journey would be to become a soloist, to sing with a company somewhere," she said.