An Okotoks singer’s voice is filling a Canyon-sized void for the Calgary Flames.
Michela Sheedy has replaced Foothills area country singer George Canyon in singing O Canada at Flames home games when he is out on tour.
“It is quite an honour to sing in front of that many people and have them sing along — a very special feeling,” Sheedy said of singing the anthem in front of 18,000 people. “It brings a real sense of unity. Not only are we all brought together for the love of hockey, but we love our Canadian team and we love being Canadian.”
She had an extra-patriotic moment when she sang at the Nov. 9 game against the Detroit Red Wings — the Flames’ last home game prior to Remembrance Day.
She tingles every time she sings O Canada, whether it’s in front of 300 football fans at a Holy Trinity Academy Knights football game or in front of a packed Scotiabank Saddledome.
Although it’s pure Michela Sheedy when she sings, she realizes O Canada belongs to everyone.
“I stay true to the original melody to both the American and Canadian anthems to the song itself,” she said. “I want to represent the Flames and my country as well.”
Like Flames rookie Mark Jankowski trying to cut his teeth in the NHL, Sheedy put in countless hours before making her Saddledome debut.
She applied online for the job of replacing the travelling Canyon in the summer.
“I worked very hard on my audition tapes and with my vocal coach Tamara Beatty, who is a vocal coach on The Voice,” Sheedy said. “I got a call from George Canyon himself saying, ‘Congrats, you are one of the finalists.’”
The competition was whittled down to three singers who sang at Flames pre-season games.
“It’s been me ever since — a great journey,” she said.
Canyon has been a big help in that journey.
“I sang at a preseason game and then George invited me to a game to kind of show me the steps — little tips like where to look when I am singing the anthem, to pay respect to the flag and just like little logistical things like where (my) jersey is kept and locate my monitor pack. He has been a real mentor for me.”
Of course, when the Flames play opponents like the Red Wings and the Devils, she also had to sing the American national anthem, Star Spangled Banner.
She watched countless hours of performances of the anthem — from the worst (Carl Lewis, Roseanne Barr) to the best.
“It is a pretty intimidating song to sing - I have heard the American national anthem is one of the hardest to sing because of the range and how high it goes,” she said. “But I practiced and I was pretty confident. It was really cool to pay respect to their country as well.”
She said the most impressive performance she saw of the Star Spangled Banner was Lady Gaga at the 2016 Super Bowl.
“When I watched her perform I actually teared up and it almost made me feel like a proud American even though I am Canadian,” she said. “I want to be able to have that effect on people singing both the American and Canadian anthems.
“Make them feel as patriotic and included as I can.”
Sheedy’s sang both anthems when the Flames played the St. Louis Blues on Monday.
She said she anticipates replacing Canyon in the future when he is touring in support of his latest single More You and upcoming album.