Jim Cornelison isn't exactly an overnight sensation.
This is his fourth season as the full-time National Anthem singer for the Blackhawks, who made a brilliant championship run last season to win the Stanley Cup.
But Cornelison said he was overwhelmed by the response to his performance at Sunday's NFC Divisional Playoff game at Soldier Field. A YouTube clip of his performance just topped 1 million page views.
"It's been nuts," Cornelison told me this morning. "As soon as I sang it, I don't know how many texts and Facebook messages I got."
He was touched by the comments, including a woman who reached out all the way from Germany.
"I was like, 'Whoa. This is different,' " he said.
But here's the scoop: Cornelison wasn't 100 percent.
He's not sure what it is -- maybe allergies, he said? -- but he's been battling it for weeks.
Then he sounded like an athlete.
"Who wants to go on national TV and not be at your best? But that's part of being a professional singer," he said. "Unless you're flat on your back, you got to go do it."
He hopes to get better by Sunday, when he'll sing the "Star Spangled Banner" before the Bears and Green Bay Packers vie for the Halas Trophy, awarded to the winner of the NFC. After initially booking former American Idol winner Lee DeWyze, who is from Mount Prospect, the NFL deferred to the wishes of the Bears and the team's fans and made a switch. Cornelison will sing the anthem again, while DeWyze performs at halftime.
"It's about the fans, and they love the anthem when Jim does it, and this is the biggest championship game ever, so we want it to start right," said Bears spokesman Scott Hagel, "and we're thrilled to have a hometown talent like Lee Dewyze perform at halftime."
Cornelison has performed with Placido Domingo, and he's performed at major venues like the San Francisco Opera and major events like the Winter Classic and Stanley Cup games.
And while he'll be amped up for Sunday's NFC title game, Cornelison has another big date coming up: Tuesday night at the United Center, when his mother will see him sing the anthem for the first time.
"I don't know why it took me so long to think about it," he said. "I see the vets, and I said, 'I got to get my mom down here.' "
Kathyrn Cornelison, 88, was a nurse in World War II.
"It's huge for her," he said.