Headlines were made across North America after Vancouver Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini publicly cut ties with anthem singer Mark Donnelly.
Major newspapers in the United States reported on it, and naturally Don Cherry also weighed in on the subject.
And it’s easy to understand why. Donnelly, a beloved figure in the city for many, managed to completely tarnish his reputation by performing and speaking at an anti-mask rally.
It angered many, with numerous Canucks fans blasting the longtime anthem singer on social media. This has also brought out the vocal minority of anti-maskers from all over the continent to weigh in, spreading conspiracy theories that are potentially dangerous to public health.
But through all of the anger and hate, it didn’t take long for Canucks fans to anoint a new top anthem singer, as Marie Hui has seen in her notifications on social media of late.
— Josh Heppner (@joshheppner) December 5, 2020
— Jason Shepherd (@tattojay) December 5, 2020
Let’s make it official, I’m all on Team @mariehui for being the main Canucks anthem singer.
— Wyatt Arndt (@TheStanchion) December 4, 2020
— Rob Sampare Brotchie (@canucker101) December 5, 2020
— Lucas Gates (@LucasGates92) December 5, 2020
Did anyone start an internet petition to make @mariehui the official anthem singer of the Canucks yet
— Derek Bolen (@hurrrdurrr) December 5, 2020
Please hire @mariehui to sing the anthem at all Canucks games
— Errol #BLM ⭕️ (@wookiepie14) December 5, 2020
In a telephone interview with Daily Hive, Hui says she’s surprised and humbled by the outpouring of support.
“I’m loving all the love,” she said. “I had no idea so many people knew about me.”
It was a nice surprise for the local R&B singer and songwriter, whose singing career has been affected significantly by the pandemic.
Hui is no stranger to Vancouver sports fans, of course. She won a singing competition to become the Vancouver Whitecaps’ anthem singer before their first MLS season in 2011. She has sung the anthem before at countless events and competitions around town since and has even been asked to sing O Canada at Seattle Seahawks games on multiple occasions.
You may also recognize her from numerous Canucks parody songs in collaboration with Clay Imoo.
Hui has become a semi-regular at Canucks games too, since performing on the red carpet at Rogers Arena for the first time in 2013.
“The outpouring of love is very humbling for me… I hope it turns into something positive, but I also know that the Canucks do ask a lot of people to sing during the season… so it’s not like an exclusive job.”
While Donnelly was synonymous with the Canucks for nearly two decades, as we reported yesterday, he was already being phased out by the team. Indeed it was Hui, not Donnelly, who was asked to sing the national anthem for pre-recorded performances played during the playoffs in the Edmonton bubble last summer.
Well done, @Canucks. We fought hard. Thanks for allowing me to be part of your home game experience. Even though the team and this city won’t be hoisting the cup, I’ve placed an anthem trophy in my own case. #canucks pic.twitter.com/GvD87Idwj5
— Marie Hui (@mariehui) September 5, 2020
The two singers are polar opposites in many ways, and that includes their views on public health.
“We all need to do our part in being safe and helping flatten the curve cause there are so many people that are sick,” said Hui. “So many people dying on a daily basis, that we need to do our part as citizens of Canada.”
The anthem singer position is more of a title than a job, as many performers do it on a volunteer basis. But if the Canucks are looking for someone new to become synonymous with the team, Hui’s squeaky-clean image and positive voice on social media make her a logical choice.
— Marie Hui (@mariehui) November 12, 2019
For now, Hui isn’t expecting anything, when pressed for her interest in becoming the team’s new top singer, she admitted “it would be nice.”