Oh, say can she sing! Iconic anthem singer Newman still wowing local hockey fans
Powerful performer dazzled crowd before inaugural Living & Learning Enrichment Center fundraiser game
The silky-smooth voice that kick-started so many Detroit Red Wings victories during the organization’s glory days was warming hockey fans’ hearts — and pleasing their ears — once again Sept. 29 inside Plymouth’s USA Hockey Arena.
Karen Newman — widely recognized as “The Voice” of the Red Wings during their Joe Louis Arena Stanley Cup-winning years and beyond — performed the national anthem minutes before a team of Red Wings alumni faced off against a squad of Detroit-area first-responders in the inaugural Hockey Hearts & Heroes game to benefit Northville’s Living & Learning Enrichment Center.
Judging by the response following her performance, Newman still knows how to wow a crowd.
“It felt great,” Newman said following her rendition of the anthem. “And hearing the crowd’s warm reception after, wow, what a feeling.”
Newman revealed she still feels the familiar pre-anthem adrenaline rush — whether she’s performing for the NHL Wings or the alumni version.
“Every time I sing that song, I’m pumped up,” she said. “Just because there aren’t 20,000 fans in the arena doesn’t mean the song got any easier … especially now that I’m not performing it on a regular basis.
“When I was singing the anthem regularly before games at Joe Louis, it got to where it was muscle memory. It was almost like remote control, although I never took it for granted. I always get nervous before I sing because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Newman said the Sept. 29 game in Plymouth was like a mini-reunion for her and some of the close friends she forged unbreakable bonds with at JLA.
“Tonight I saw Al Sobotka, Greg Stefan, people I’ve known for years,” she said. “I still remember Al used to take my twins for Zamboni rides at Joe Louis.”
The twins — Dylan and Kylie — are now 20. Dylan is a student at the University of Michigan while Kylie has finished two years at Oakland University and is looking to transfer to U of M next semester.
The day after Newman performed in Plymouth, she was in Ohio watching Kylie compete in a high-level equestrian event.
Newman said she performed the National Anthem before four Wings games at Little Caesars Arena during the 2021-22 season, but doesn’t know if she’ll be asked back for more.
Either way, she is staying busy. On Dec. 11, she’ll be performing live for the first time since pre-COVID days at the Andiamo Celebrity Showroom in Warren.
Newman also performs the national anthem at high schools and colleges in metro-Detroit and for several charity events, the most-recent being the Mark Wahlberg Celebrity Golf Outing that benefitted the Children’s Miracle Network of Beaumont Children’s Hospital.
In addition to having toured with Bob Seger and Kid Rock, among others, Newman has been a regular attraction during Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
While her resume is long and impressive, her stirring Red Wings national anthem performances resonate the deepest for thousands of residents of metro Detroit.
“Those were great memories I’ll never forget,” she said.
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