Jim Cornelison sings the National Anthem before Blackhawks' home hockey games.
Before Chicago Blackhawks home hockey games, I get to sing the National Anthem "full throttle."
I’ve been lucky to have sung in opera houses from Brussels to Santa Fe, but there’s nothing like singing for the 20,000 cheering and applauding fans in Chicago’s United Center.
It's impossible not to have a strong emotional reaction. I have to keep cool and not get too carried away. It is arguably the greatest tradition in professional sports.
The resulting celebrity has had an interesting effect on my life. One fan told me I have the greatest part-time job in the world! And though I’ve appeared on major networks and have met some of Chicago's social elite, I take the greatest satisfaction that my singer-songwriter son James has already made a splash in the Chicago blues scene. And my daughter Elizabeth is developing quite the set of pipes as well.
At SPU, I was a member of the Victory Quartet; I was also a chorister with the Seattle Opera. My most influential professor was Vernon Wicker, now retired, who taught voice and helped me communicate text and emotion.
Though I have sung around the globe, my professional singing career kept me on the road seven months each year. It not only put a strain on the family, but it was also much more fun at 30 than at 40. Factor in that the opera season and the hockey season collided, and I needed to choose.
Now I’m a sales agent for Rubloff Residential Properties. Real estate is a way after quitting opera to make money quickly and still remain my own boss. And the anthem? It's always a rush. I love being a part of the celebration of being American and a Blackhawks fan!
— Jim Cornelison '86
Watch Jim sing the national anthem
at the Seattle Seahawks-Chicago Bears playoff game in December 2010.