In 2011, Al St. Louis set a goal to perform the National Anthem 1,000 times by July of 2016. Now, a month before that date, he has fulfilled that feat and more. St. Louis has performed the National Anthem 1,258 times, and now wants to reach 1,325 performances by the end of July. If he accomplishes this, he will break a new record of 500 performances in one year.
Breaking records is not something new for St. Louis. He has achieved multiple World Records, including the record for the Most National Anthems in one year with 217, in one day with 10, in three days with 21, and in one year with 325. Shootout for Soldiers Boston gave him his fifth World Record: the most National Anthems in 24 hours, with 25 performances.
Last year, Colonel Mike Sullivan, the organizer for Shootout for Soldiers Boston, saw St. Louis singing the Anthem at a Boston Cannons lacrosse game. Sullivan approached St. Louis about singing for the Opening Ceremony at Harvard for the 2015 event, and St. Louis agreed to do so. Later that summer, Janine Strange sang the Anthem 24 times in 24 hours during Shootout for Soldiers California. This year, Sullivan challenged St. Louis to sing the Anthem 25 times in 24 hours, and naturally, St. Louis agreed to take on the task.
St. Louis sang the National Anthem before all 24 hour time slots during Shootout for Soldiers Boston, as well as during the Closing Ceremony, totaling 25 performances. He rented an RV where he rested for about fifteen to twenty minutes throughout the night hours of the event, but he was awake and ready to sing for each hour.
After singing the National Anthem so many times, one may wonder if St. Louis feels nervous performing the song anymore. “That has been asked of me many times, but my answer is no, because it is a comfort zone for me,” said St. Louis. “I can and have sung in front of 120,000 fans at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and it was a thrill to have that instant roar of the crowd when you nail the Anthem.”
When asked to describe one of his favorite memories of singing the Anthem, St. Louis told a story of trying to perform at Fenway Park. “I always wanted to sing at Fenway Park and auditioned eight times but never got called back to sing,” said St. Louis. “I finally got up the nerve to call them and ask them what I had to do to sing for the Red Sox. Their answer was to get my name out there.”
St. Louis proceeded to perform the anthem in several venues, and accumulated 217 performances in 364 days. He submitted this to www.recordsetter.com for the most performances in a year, and they accepted his World Record attempt. A week later, the Red Sox called him and asked if he was interested in singing at Fenway. He performed the Anthem at Fenway Park before a Cleveland Indians game, but his name was spelled “Saint Lewis” on the Jumbotron. St. Louis told his contact that he owed him a game the next year because of the typo, and told him that he wanted to sing before a Red Sox vs. Yankees game. He was contacted two weeks later and was scheduled to perform at Fenway for a Saturday night game against the Yankees. This is a particularly special memory for St. Louis, as it shows how his persistence paid off.
St. Louis says that performing 25 National Anthems at Shootout for Soldiers Boston had an equivalent emotional atmosphere to performing at Fenway for a Yankees game. Although the Shootout for Soldiers is a smaller venue, the cause is one that hits home for St. Louis. “I have many friends and family members that are Veterans,” said St. Louis. “Two of my brothers-in-law held the flag behind me when I sang this year [at the event], and one of them did so eleven times.”
“I am honored to have been a small part of such an amazing event this year,” said St. Louis. “I am blessed to have been given a talent that I can share and to be able to sing the Star Spangled Banner in front of so many people! To be able to sing for Veterans and members of our services that are active is an added bonus for me as they are so appreciative of my treatment of the song, as I sing it how it is written, and always do. I have sung for many Veteran events and always get at least one Veteran that thanks me for singing it the right way.”