He has sung repeatedly on national TV and now visitors to Las Vegas are requesting Carnell Johnson when they arrive at The Venetian.
Johnson, a Vegas native, swapped the gondolier’s costume from his day job for a Vegas Golden Knights jersey as he belted out the National Anthem in all 11 of the team’s postseason home games, including three Stanley Cup Finals matchups.
Hockey fans got to know Johnson’s classically trained voice and nicknamed him “Golden Pipes.”
He said people seemed to appreciate the fact that he didn’t create his own version of “The Star Spangled Banner,” as other performers have.
“I don’t change anything,” he said. “I sing it the way it’s written.”
Since his exposure on network television during the Stanley Cup Finals (which the Washington Capitals won in five games), some visitors to The Venetian — people he has never seen — ask to ride in his gondola through the man-made waterway outside the resort along Las Vegas Boulevard.
“People will say either, ‘Is Golden Pipes, or the National Anthem singer, here?’” he said.
Yes, it is OK to request a gondola ride with Johnson at the ticket booth. During the 10-minute or so ride, he and his fellow gondoliers steer their boats while serenading their passengers with songs from Italian operas and other music.
Look for Golden Pipes and his gondola from 11 a.m. until 4:45 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. Tickets cost $29 a person.
Johnson studied at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. He first performed at a Knights game in February after the singer who was scheduled to perform got sick.
“I was in the right place,” he said.
In a June 5 celebration, resort officials and his fellow employees honored his newfound fame by presenting him with a plaque and an authentic gondola oar fashioned into a hockey stick.
Johnson, whose goal is to perform on Broadway, said his time in the spotlight hadn’t gone to his head.
“I have plenty of friends around who keep me grounded,” he said.