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Leo Welsh is the ...
Leo Welsh is the Jackets' National Anthem singer.
• Welsh to sing 'Oh, ...
• Welsh to sing 'Oh, Canada'
St. Clairsville native Leo Welsh
will be singing the Canadian National Anthem, "Oh, Canada" prior to the dropping of the puck inside Nationwide Arena in downtown Columbus.
The NHL formally announced the Anthem singers on Friday, but Welsh, who is the Blue Jackets' primary Anthem singer, actually knew a month ago that he'd have the opportunity.
had a good feeling he'd be part of the festivities tonight.
He'd been paying close attention to past NHL All-Star Games and found that the host team's main singer usually played a role.
"It's been basically a standard policy that the house singer sings the first Anthem," Welsh
said during a phone interview.
"The last all-star game was three years ago in Ottawa and the house singer sang the United States National Anthem."
and the two Canadian Mounties met for a rehearsal Saturday.
It'll be the first time that Welsh
has sang on the ice with another person(s).
"It'll be a little bit different, but I've sung in choirs my whole life, so I am used to harmonization," Welsh
"It won't be a huge change for me."
Another change, but only a minor one, is that Welsh
and the Canadian Mounties will be singing 'Oh, Canada' bilingually . The song will begin in English, shift to French and then finish in English.
Nerves won't be a factor tonight for Welsh
Basically, it's just another day at the office.
"I don't get nervous about singing in front of people, but I do get nervous over things I can't control," Welsh
"If I have a cold or a voice crack that I can't control ... that makes me nervous, but people don't bother me."
started singing the National Anthem at Blue Jacket games in 2003.
actually shared the duty with Livy Turnow.
since moved, and Welsh
has been the full-time singer since 2006.
moved to Columbus to pursue a career with the Columbus Opera
graduation from Ohio University
and then landed the opportunity with the Blue Jackets
Growing up in the Ohio Valley, Welsh
was a Penguins fan before the Blue Jackets
arrived on the scene in 2000.
The two franchises clashed in the opening round of the 2014 playoffs with Pittsburgh eventually eventually eliminating the Jackets in seven games.
Welsh's loyalty wasn't in question.
"I definitely grew up cheering for Mario Lemieux and the Pens because watching him and those other guys score all those goals made hockey easy to learn," Welsh
"But, now, I am all in for the Blue Jackets.
It was an easy transition."
Along with singing for the Blue Jackets'
home schedule, Welsh
sang the National Anthem at a Reds and Indians game, on back-to-back days last summer.
also sang for a Nationwide Race at the Kentucky Motor Speedway.
"I met a guy from the Tribe at a Blue Jackets'
game and the people at speedway were Jacket fans and contacted me personally," Welsh
also had the opportunity to sing the National Anthem prior to his
alma mater's opening-round playoff game against Coshocton in November at Red Devil Stadium.
"I am not sure I've had bigger goose bumps than I did singing at St. Clairsville," Welsh
"I have never sung as loud as I did that day.
It was just a real treat and honor to get to do something I really love to do at a place I love being."
Singing isn't just a hobby for Welsh
The owner of a music degree from Ohio.
Welsh has been a member of the Columbus Opera Company and is currently in rehearsals for his role in Marriage of Figaro.
role in that, which begins in March, may cause him to miss a few Blue Jacket dates, but that's not totally out of the ordinary.
"I miss a game every once in a while," Welsh
"When I got married it was December, so I missed a few games for our honeymoon and different things have come up, but most nights I am there."
wife, Lisa, who is a native of Hilliard, have three sons, Kevin (5), Kane (3) and Cameron (4 mo.).
Leo Welsh talks about pulling ...
Leo Welsh talks about pulling double duty at the Opera house and the Ice Hocky Rink
From the ice rink to the open seas, Leo Welsh
remains in the spotlight.
Welsh, the Columbus Blue Jackets' official anthem singer, is also working on becoming a pirate for Opera Columbus' upcoming performances of The Pirates of Penzance.
"There's a new system in place, they're scoring more goals," says Welsh, a member of Opera Columbus.
"I like the direction the team is going."
A lot of players have come and gone since 2004 when Welsh, somewhat recruited to come to Columbus, became the official singer.
Now, fans seem to identify him with the team as much as any player.
In likeness to the Columbus Crew-like fan chant of players' first names when being introduced, after the arena announcer introduces Leo Welsh
, chants of "LE-O!
ring out in boisterous unison.
The pregame tradition is completed after Welsh sings his
booming, straight-forward rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner.
left fist in the air; something he
says just came naturally to him after singing the anthem early on.
Before heading out on the ice, Welsh
"I jump around, trying to get myself warmed up-it's a lot cooler down there then you expect," he
"If people saw me in the tunnel, they'd probably think I was crazy or something."
Some fans have noticed that Welsh
took extended pauses during the anthem before the start of a few games at the start of the season.
"It was odd, and I have to apologize," he
After singing the anthem, Welsh, whose day job is a nursing home administrator, says he disappears into the crowd fairly easily.
"I guess I could go straight to my seats from the ice, but I usually go back through the stadium," he
"When I walk out, I pass a bunch of people, but usually no one recognizes me."
"I'm just another guy in a Jackets' jersey," he
says, adding, "They are probably wondering which player has the last name Welsh
"I met Leo
when he was singing at OU," says Boggs, who was surprised and flattered when he heard that he played a role in Welsh's move to Columbus, "He was probably the best singer there...he had a good attitude and was a really good kid."
Sarah Rhorer, an opera singer who has known Welsh since they their high school days, says Welsh is a steady, motivated guy.
is part of Opera Columbus'
Opera Improv group, which puts on interactive performances at schools.
"It's perfect for Welsh
," Rhorer says, "He's funny and witty, so it comes naturally to him."
Leo WelshBlue Jackets ...
Leo WelshBlue Jackets Anthem SingerLadies and Gentlemen, please rise and kindly remove your hats for the singing of the National Anthem performed by Blue Jackets Anthem Singer, Mr. Leo Welsh.
After several seasons of showcasing a variety of singers, the Blue Jackets
began an extensive search to identify one singer who could quiet the masses, inspire the team and flawlessly perform both the Star Spangled Banner and O'Canada on a regular basis - one singer who the fans could call their own and be an identifiable part of YOUR TEAM.With his
rich tone and vibrant rendition of Francis Scott Key's famous anthem, it didn't take long for Leo Welsh
to sing his
way into the hearts of Blue Jackets fans.When not singing at Blue Jackets games, Leo is an active member of Opera Columbus, where he has performed in over a dozen productions since 2002.In addition, Leo serves as a section leader and soloist for the First Congregational Church.Leo graduated from Ohio University and now resides in Columbus where he works in a nursing home and rehabilitation center while continuing to pursue his musical and theatrical endeavors.
...The Blue Jackets
proudly retain Mr. Leo Welsh
as the signature anthem singer for Your Team.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Fans Center
Leo WelshBlue Jackets Anthem SingerSince the 2003-04 season, Welsh has been the voice in Nationwide Arena that quiets the masses, inspires the team, and flawlessly performs the National Anthem. Welsh
has been fine tuning his
vocals since his
days of performing with the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir.After graduating from St. Clairsville High School in St. Clairsville, Ohio, Welsh moved on to become a member of the Ohio University Singers while simultaneously serving as President and active member of The Singing Men of Ohio. In 2002 Welsh joined Opera Columbus where he has performed in over a dozen productions.Opera Columbus would introduce him to ‘Opera Columbus on the Go!' a youth outreach program where he was a performer and an instructor, with performances all around central Ohio in elementary and middle schools.In addition, Welsh serves as a section leader and soloist for the First Congregational Church. Welsh
is the third of four children, all of whom currently reside in Columbus.He graduated in 2002 from Ohio University (Athens) with a bachelor's degree in specialized studies in music for the theatre.Welsh
is currently employed at Columbus West Park
, a nursing home and rehabilitation center on the west side of Columbus.
...The Blue Jackets
retain two signature anthem singers, Leo Welsh
and Libby Turnow.