Touring the country, Glenn, who is African-American, also confronted racism at its most nefarious. He ate alone in restaurant kitchens. Festivals canceled gigs, even though his band headlined them. When his white bandmates were asked to pair off in an Alabama hotel, he was forced to sleep alone.
Glenn moved to Florissant, Mo., from Oakland, Calif., when he was about 12, but attended high school in an adjacent town, Ferguson, which five years ago erupted into heated protests after a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teenager. During the turmoil, Glenn returned to talk to protesters, to give them water, to listen.
The experience changed him. It transformed how he approached the anthem. He made what he called a conscious decision to sing in a way that reflected St. Louis’s diversity. For the team’s fans from the Hill, the city’s Italian neighborhood, he added “a jazz Italian flavor.” For the fans from Bevo Mill, the German and Bosnian section, he focused on brawny resonance. For the fans from the Northside, a predominantly African-American area, he sings how they would sing, how he does sing.
“I will not disrespect the song in any way,” said Glenn, who was in the stands at Jack Murphy Stadium in San Diego on July 25, 1990, when Roseanne Barr shrieked the anthem. “But I want to make sure they know that I’m singing for them, not to them. I’m representing them. I may be in black skin, but I’m representing St. Louis.”
On some game days, percolating with gusto, he calls Pippi and tells him to wait, just wait, for later. On others, the brightness of his voice fades, and those are the nights when — unlike Monday, when he crooned, “When the Blues go marching in,” in front of Section 123 — he can’t sing anymore.
“It’s never an issue that he didn’t sing well,” Pippi said. “You just know that he’s not feeling up to his best.”
Glenn estimated that he has sung about 70 percent of the anthems over the years, and the times when he has not, a group in the 300 Level, when it hears the public-address announcer introduce his stand-in, screams, “That’s not Charles!”