Every piece of the Thunder – from the games to the fans – has a story, and we don’t always get a chance to tell them. But a small photo on page 57 of the latest issue of Thunder Magazine (now available!) reminded me of the story of one of our recent national anthem performers.
Last June, a musician with the Twitter handle of @justinyoungsax sent a tweet to the Thunder, asking about opportunities to perform the national anthem at a game. We replied with the contact info of the point person in our office for booking in-game entertainment, noting that, since we were in the early part of the off-season, it may be a while until we started looking at game-night performers.
Justin thanked us, and, for the next eight months, that was that.
As the program for the Feb. 14 home game came across my desk, I looked at the night’s national anthem performer – saxophonist Justin Young – and something itched in the back of my brain. Sure enough, this was the same Justin Young who had reached out to us the previous summer on Twitter.
It turns out that Justin had relocated to Oklahoma in June 2011 and reached out to the Thunder almost immediately. A Michigan native who had moved to California in 2007 for a job opportunity, Justin’s company announced last March that they’d be moving his program from Long Beach to OKC – moving Justin and his family along with it.
In a recent email, Justin wrote about the experience: “Although I would have to sell our house in California and move my family (wife and son of 1.5 years at the time), I was both sad to leave CA and excited for the upcoming opportunity in OKC. The following day the Thunder was playing on TV and the crowd was aptly referred to as ‘loud city.’ I thought to myself, ‘Wow! This OKC is going to be a lot of fun. Go Thunder!’”
Justin wanted to be a part of the Thunder excitement, and thought that his “other” career as a musician would be a way to contribute to the team. A longtime performer with four albums under his belt, Justin finally got a chance to fill the Chesapeake Energy Arena with his music on Valentine’s Day.
“I had an absolute blast and met a lot of really nice people!” he wrote. “The Thunder even gave me a DVD of the performance. The Thunder rocks!!”
Here’s a video of Justin’s performance that night (and, if you’re interested, a link to his website):
- Karina Henderson