KINGSTON, R.I. — September 1, 2017 — You may have seen and heard Vinnie Joyce sing the “Star Spangled Banner” at University of Rhode Island basketball, soccer and volleyball games, Pawtucket Red Sox games, opening day for the Chariho Little League or numerous Eagle Scout induction ceremonies.
But on Sept. 6, he’ll sing Canada’s national anthem in front his largest audience ever — the 37,000 fans at Fenway Park for the Sox-Toronto Blue Jays tilt.
The Charlestown resident and manager of the University of Rhode Island’s Ram’s Den dining facility said performing “Oh Canada” will be the biggest moment of his singing career.
“I am going to the show,” said Joyce, referencing the phrase used by ballplayers when they make it to the major leagues.
Joyce, who earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing from URI in 1980, will become the second person from URI to sing at Fenway Park. Christopher Davey, who graduated with his bachelor’s degree in music from URI in 2016, performed the “Star Spangled Banner” on Rhode Island Day at Fenway in 2014 when he was a sophomore.
Joyce was one of 200 applicants for a shot at singing the U.S. national anthem, and he made it to the round of nine finalists.
“When I wasn’t selected from that group, I told the judges I could sing Canada’s national anthem,” Joyce said. “When a Red Sox representative heard about me, I got my shot.”
The Cranston High School East graduate sang in the school’s choir and theater productions, but after high school, his performing dropped off.
But when he came to work at URI in 2007, he took a one-credit course, The Basics of Singing, with Senior Lecturer Rene De la Garza, and things took off.
“He liked my voice and he asked me to audition for the URI Opera,” said Joyce, who is now pursuing a second bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics. “I am a member of the URI Opera and I’ve sung at least a dozen times at the Ryan Center.”
He said the URI community loves his performances. “I am past the nervous stage. I don’t get nervous anymore, I just get excited. What’s cooler than singing at sports events,” said the lifelong Sox fan.
But what’s a guy with an Irish last name doing singing Canada’s national anthem, which is performed in French and English?
“My mother’s parents emigrated from Quebec,” Joyce said. “Her name was Theresa Beaudry, but our French-Canadian heritage didn’t have much of a chance surviving in a household headed by a strong Irishman,” Joyce said with a laugh.
For his performance, he received four complimentary tickets to the game that night. Joining him will be his wife Kathleen, son Timothy and David Real, a former player for the Ocean State Waves baseball team, who stayed with the Joyce family while a member of the team. Joyce also sang the “Star Spangled Banner” at Waves games at Old Mountain Field in Wakefield.
Sometimes he sings in the Ram’s Den, but his student workers tell him to pipe down.
But now that he is headed to the show, they couldn’t be happier for their boss. In fact, some tried to persuade him to bring them to Fenway.
“What could I do? I love these kids, but I had to bring my family for this big moment.”