Greenville’s Stephens to sing national anthem at Tigers game

By Ryan Schlehuber "Scoop" • Last Updated 10:06 am on Friday, April 20, 2012

Julie Stephens

Seattle Mariners vs. Detroit Tigers

7:05 p.m. at Comerica Park, Detroit, Michigan
Likely starting pitchers: SEA: Jason Vargas, DET: Max Scherzer
TV: Fox Sports Detroit (Channel 33 for Greenville area)
Radio: You may be able to catch the Tigers game on FM radio — either WBBL 107.3 or LAV 96.9, however, the national anthem may not be aired.

GREENVILLE — Julie Stephens is used to being in the spotlight.

After all, she’s been singing in many venues and in front of different audiences since she was 9 years old.

However, this Tuesday will be Stephens’ biggest performance yet — singing the national anthem at a Detroit Tigers home game in Comerica Park.

Stephens is a Greenville stay-at-home mother of two daughters, the director of the Miss Danish Festival Scholarship Pageant and a local representative for the Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant. She has been a member of several bands performing for corporate events and has sung the national anthem at pageant shows and at a Grand Rapids Rampage arena football game. She also enjoys karaoke with the family every now and then. Stephens and her husband, Phil, have two daughters, AJ, 14, and Audree, 13.

Though she doesn’t shy away from the spotlight when singing, she does admit to being humbled by the attention she’s getting since being picked to sing the national anthem at Comerica Park, which holds more than 40,000 people.

Stephens is scheduled to sing at 6:57 p.m. Game time is 7:05 p.m.

“This is a big deal to sing the national anthem in front of so many people but I feel so humble. I love singing but I don’t like talking about myself so much,” said Stephens with a chuckle.

The opportunity to perform at a Tigers game opened up through her ties with the Miss Michigan Scholarship Pageant, which she has been affiliated with since she participated in the pageant as Miss Auburn as a teenager.

Shelley Taylor, state director of the Miss Michigan program, mentioned Stephens’ vocal talents to fellow Miss Michigan representative Nicole Blaszczyk, who works in the Tigers’ marketing department.

“I’ve known Julie since she competed in the Miss Michigan pageant in the 1980s and I’ve heard her sing many times. Her voice, to me, is like none other,” said Taylor of Stephens. “She sings the national anthem beautifully. She has a remarkable voice and she is a lovely, lovely lady.”

The Detroit Tigers organization offers anyone to try out to sing the national anthem at a game, asking those interested to submit a demo CD or DVD, which Stephens did.

“I had a recording of me singing done in my bathroom,” Stephens laughed, “but it sounds really good!”
Singing the national anthem, she said, is the highest honor for a singer.

“I remember performing at the Rampage game and how all the players and cheerleaders were lined up and everyone was standing at attention ready for that moment,” Stephens said. “It’s kind of overwhelming.
Thinking of being in front of a big crowd at Comerica Park, I’m both nervous and excited.”

Stephens, who teaches guitar and vocal lessons, said she was interested and had hoped to perform at Comerica Park last summer, imagining herself there as she watched Aretha Franklin sing during a Tigers home playoff game. It wasn’t until last week, when she received a call and saw “Detroit Tigers” on the caller ID that she realized she was headed to Comerica Park on Tuesday, which the Tigers have named “Miss Michigan Pageant Day.”

“I was at my house by myself and saw the caller ID when the phone rang and began freaking out and screamed, ‘Oh my gosh!’” Stephens said.

She said many of her friends and family plan to travel to Detroit on a rental bus. Taylor said all Miss Michigan directors and pageant winners are invited to the game, although Miss Danish Festival Audrey Frank will be unable to attend due to college exams.

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