Since the very first Seattle Sounders FC Major League Soccer game in 2009, Seattle Pacific University Associate Professor of Music Stephen Newby has been a part of the action. He’s led the singing of the national anthem more than 100 times. On June 4, 2017, Newby was presented by the Sounders with the Golden Scarf award in thanks for his service to the team. The SPU professor is stepping back from singing the anthem as frequently as he has been — he wants to spend more time with his son, who currently has a demanding track-and-field schedule. But Newby plans to still make occasional anthem-singing appearances in the future.
The special arrangement of the anthem that accompanies Newby’s singing is one he composed himself. Perhaps not surprisingly, for an experienced choral director and composer, it’s designed to get as many people to sing together as possible. And with the Sounders regularly drawing crowds of more than 40,000, singing in unison is quite a feat.
“It helps get the audience involved in singing,” he told Response in 2012. “Soccer in Seattle is amazing because it’s about community. People want to go out and celebrate something positive.”
Newby has brought musical excellence to the performance, and he’s given SPU students an opportunity to take part as well, on occasion. The SPU Gospel Choir has performed prior to the match on more than one occasion.