Local singer records new anthem for Fenway Park
BMS talks with Massachusetts crooner Brian Evans about his song “At Fenway”
“No matter where you sit, you’re in heaven for a little bit,” croons Brian Evans in a voice deep yet light as a fly ball. “It’s gonna be a great day at Fenway.”
Red Sox fans now have one more thing to help them celebrate the 100th birthday of America’s Most Beloved Ballpark with “At Fenway”, a big-band, Sinatra-esque anthem penned and sung by Evans. This contemporary crooner’s deep love for Fenway took form last May when he released the single, and to say it’s been a hit among Red Sox Nation is like calling their feud with the Yankees a petty rivalry. The song has sold hundreds of thousands of copies, been licensed by the MLB, and entered into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.
“Who would have thought that would happen?” says Evans, who first sang the Star Spangled Banner at Fenway Park in 2008. “Especially during football season, when it came out. It’s just a testament to the fact that people really do love that park, no matter what happens on the field.”
That’s exactly the attitude “At Fenway” captures: the contagious aura of elation that has been transfixing fans since the Sox’ first game on April 20, 1912, when they beat the New York Highlanders, who would later become the Yankees. On Friday, one century later, the Red Sox will celebrate the park’s 100th birthday by playing the Yankees.
“It’s not even about the game entirely,” Evans notes. “It’s about Yawkey Way, and hanging out there, and the memorabilia – the whole thing… it’s a magical experience. It’s really second to none.”
“At Fenway” has accomplished a lot for a song that almost didn’t happen. Grammy Award winner Narada Michael Walden, who produced Evans’s upcoming debut album, refused to record a baseball song. But Evans was persistent.
“I’m from Boston, so I knew what the Red Sox mean to the city, but I don’t think that he did because he’s from San Francisco, and he’s a Giants guy,” the singer recalls with a laugh. “So when I told him about this song I wanted to do, I don’t think he really understood the power of Red Sox Nation.”
Finally, on their last day in the San Francisco studio, Walden allowed him to sing a cappella into the microphone. By the time Evans had flown to his home in Hawaii, the acclaimed producer had composed and added the musical accompaniment to turn the recording into a jazz piece straight from a 1940′s ballroom.
Evans isn’t stopping with “At Fenway”; with his major label debut album My Turn due later this year, he continues to explore the genre that’s almost as old as the park itself. While the self-titled “croonerman” lists Sinatra among his primary influences, he made a major step in his career by landing Walden, the same producer as two of his other childhood inspirations: Whitney Houston and George Michael. Though the record features a few covers, including a rendition of Elton John’s “Rocket Man”, Evans has written most of the material himself.
“What the style needs is more new music, not just new people singing the old music,” he says. With songs like “I’m A Traveler”, he’s looking to prove that the swinging style made famous by Sinatra didn’t die with the legendary singer.
Thanks in part to the success of “At Fenway”, Evans is enjoying his time in the spotlight with a whole new set of fans. The singer, who recently moved back to Massachusetts and is residing in Rockport, will look to build that fanbase later this year, when he embarks on a headlining tour. “I remember when I couldn’t get a gig at a karaoke bar,” quips Evans.
Until then, Red Sox fans know exactly where they might catch a glimpse of Brian Evans: at Fenway.