Oilers' anthem singer taking O Canada to another level
Singing from the stands has been a huge hit, and the adrenalin rush is unlike anything Robert Clark has seen
As anthem singers go, the Edmonton Oilers' Robert Clark is your basic meat and potatoes kind of guy.
He doesn't wear a tuxedo. There's no fist pumping or outlandish behaviour from the classically trained opera singer.
For the last couple of years Clark has served up O Canada plain and simple. What you hear is what you get.
But that traditional style was tossed out the window once the Oilers made the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.
Clark sang the anthem from the stands, surrounded by fans, in Game 1 against the San Jose Sharks, and again in Game 2. Both times, he sang the first few lines and let the fans belt out the rest.
He plans to do it again Thursday night when the Oilers take on the Sharks in Game 5 of the series.
Singing from the stands has been a massive hit, and for Clark the adrenalin rush is unlike anything he's ever felt before.
"I've done opera productions, I've done all sorts of things in front of thousands of people, but nothing compared to how I was feeling that first game," Clark said in an interview.
"I was on Cloud 99,000 — like, it was just an incredible experience. How could you not be pumped being a part of something like that? It was just insane."
The normally mild-mannered singer says he's been getting calls and texts from people across North America. USA Today did a story on the unique approach to the anthem in a story headlined, "Oilers fans singing the Canadian national anthem in perfect unison will give you all the chills."
Clark had friends from all over saying they heard it on radio or saw it on TV.
Twitter handle was trending
"My phone would not stop buzzing from the moment I stopped singing, and for the first time in my life — I've heard of this happening to other people — but my Twitter handle trended in Edmonton," said Clark, adding it was "kind of cool."
Fans have since asked him to sing from their section of Rogers Place next, but he doesn't know in advance where he'll stand.
"I've had people tweeting me saying 'I'm in section 103, seat 42 can you come sing the anthem by us?' "
The style of holding up the microphone to let the crowd carry the anthem was made famous by Clark's predecessor Paul Lorieau.
Back during the Oilers' 2006 Stanley Cup run, Lorieau famously held up the mic and the Oilers' faithful carry the song.
Clark hopes his take on singing the anthem will inspire a new generation of hockey fans to sing along.
Not trying to fill Lorieau's shoes
"I'm going to make this my own thing, obviously without disrespecting Paul Lorieau," Clark said. "I always say that I didn't come to fill his shoes, because his shoes were too big to fill.
"I came to start my own shoes essentially, and leave his legacy as his legacy is, which is an incredible legacy."
While Game 1's anthem was impressive, the energy during Game 2 hit another level. Now with Game 5 looming, Clark says he can't wait to fire up the fans.