A 19-year-old singer from New Westminster will be singing before her biggest crowd ever at this weekend’s Seattle Seahawks game.
Elizabeth Irving, who has been performing for a decade, will be singing O Canada at the Seahawks/Arizona Cardinals’ game at the Lumen Field. The Seahawks invited the New West resident to sing the national anthem at its Canadian appreciation game on Oct. 22.
“I'm ecstatic. It's like such a cool opportunity,” she told the Record. “I was star struck almost when they reached out to me, just because of the largeness of this event. Taylor Swift performed there; I'm going to be in the same stadium as Taylor Swift, which is crazy to me.”
While it’s a “very exciting opportunity” to sing before such a big crowd, Irving will have a few admirers of her own among the 68,740 football fans in the stands.
“My dad's side of the family are massive football fans. They actually have season’s tickets for the Seahawks, so we're going to have the whole family come out to watch,” she said. “It'll actually be my first time singing for a football game and also attending a NFL football game, so it's kind of a day of firsts for me.”
This weekend’s gig will be the largest crowd Irving has ever sung to, but she’s no stranger to singing at sporting events. For years, she’s part of a roster of anthem singers who sing at Vancouver Canucks and Whitecaps games.
Irving’s foray into anthem singing began at Coquitlam Express hockey games, when one of her brothers was playing for the BC Hockey League team. Someone then suggested she should audition to sing at the Canucks home games, and she took did just that.
“Sure enough, they booked me for a game,” she said. “And I guess they liked me, because now it's been 10 years.”
A decade later, Irving is still among a rotation of anthem singers who sing at Canucks games.
“It's very energizing,” she said. “You don't get that opportunity very often. Being able to sing in front of that many people, it's just such an honour,” she said. “It's an incredibly cool situation and experience.”
During her first appearance at a Canucks game at the age of 10, Irving finished the anthem with a little wave to the crowd – a wave that she continues to this day.
“It wasn't planned at all,” she said. “I just I thought that the crowd was cheering for me, and at 10 years old, I felt like waving to them. And up goes my arm and I'm waving at everyone. It kind of just stuck, and I've been doing it ever since.”
Singing, said Irving, has always been a part of her life.
“My parents have been saying that I was singing before I could talk,” she said. “That was kind of my way of communicating to people, not just people, but also my Barbie’s and animals and literally every one; I would just sing.”
Landing the lead role in a musical theatre production of Dear Edwina was a “pivotal” experience on Irving’s musical journey.
“Being the lead role and being able to sing a couple of solo songs on stage in front of a crowd was extremely cool,” she said. “And that was kind of the moment my parents both went, ‘OK, yeah, music is her thing.’”
It was around that time that a number doors opened on the music front – landing the role in Dear Edwina, singing the anthem at Express games and winning the Tri-Cities Got Talent competition.
“I think that I've kind of dipped my toes into a little bit of everything, it feels like,” she said. “It started with musical theatre and dance at Lindbjerg Academy of Performing Arts; that was kind of where I got my first taste of the art of music and musical theatre and performing. And then from there, it went to the anthems, which I loved because it was kind of a bonding moment for my family and I, because it was something that we all shared a love in.”
Singing the anthem at Vancouver Canucks games and doing two shows with the Arts Club Theatre Company (A Christmas Story and Mary Poppins), have been unforgettable experiences for Irving. In the years since, she’s done more musical theatre shows and started singing the anthem at Vancouver Whitecaps games.
“From there, I started to slowly release my own music. I kind of dabbled in that to see if that was something that I enjoyed,” she said. “I think that it's a beautiful way of being able to express myself. Again, music from day 1 was a way of myself communicating to others. So being able to song-write and express how I'm feeling in a beautiful way has been extremely therapeutic.”
Irving said she’s very thankful to all of the people she’s encountered in her career who have given her an opportunity to perform.
“It's almost like when one door was opened, another door was awaiting me,” she said. “So I've been very blessed in that sense that every opportunity has led to another wonderful opportunity. I'm very thankful to all the people that have given me a chance.”
Irving, who graduated from St. Thomas More Collegiate in 2021, is now in her third year at Capilano University, where she’s in the applied behavioral analysis degree program. She had initially considered a career in music therapy, but ultimately decided to pursue a career as a behavioral analyst, work that will allow her to help people with disabilities with their communication, fine motor and socialization skills.
“I can still bring my music into my programs, and I do,” she added. “I work mainly with younger children. Music is such a loved thing with them. So I'm able to sing songs and incorporate that into my lesson plans. And it's really fun.”
In addition to her performance at Sunday’s Seattle Seahawks game, Irving has other musical endeavours on the horizon. With Christmas coming up, she will be performing at various gigs, including the CP Holiday Train event in Port Moody, and she’s working on some original songs that will be released. (Irving’s music is available wherever music is available, including Spotify, iTunes and Amazon Music, and she also posts covers and short clips of her Instagram page.)
Here in New West, Irving will once again be singing O Canada at the Remembrance Day ceremony on Nov. 11.
“This is actually my 10th year doing that as well, because I started doing that when I was 10,” she said. “It's kind of cool thinking that each one of these organizations or groups, teams, cities, they've kind of watched me grow up essentially.”
Irving, who will turn 20 in November, encourages folks – particularly youths – to seize opportunities that come their way.
“Just do it,” she advised. “Say yes to absolutely every opportunity that you can, because if you put your mind to it, absolutely anything is possible.”
This weekend, Irving will be challenging herself by singing in front of the biggest crowd of her life.
“Even the Seahawks – it just pays tribute to that stretching of my comfortability. Right?” she said. “That's, that's a massive deal. Of course, it brings a lot of nerves, but I'm excited for it. I'm ready for it. And I'm going to push myself to do it, and I will overall be better off for that.”