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WATCH: St. Elizabeth High School senior Kyle Warner finds guitar to be music to his ears

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WILMINGTON — The St. Elizabeth boys basketball team is having a fantastic season, and perhaps the Vikings’ good vibes have started before the games even begin. This season, St. Elizabeth High School senior Kyle Warner has gotten the team and the crowd hyped up with his rendition of the national anthem on electric guitar before each contest.

Warner said there was talk among him and his friends about him playing the anthem at a football game, something Warner was willing to try.

“It got to, ‘You know, we should actually talk to someone about this,’ So I talked to Mr. Papili, and he said yeah, we can do it,” Warner said, referring to school president Joseph Papili.

He played at football and volleyball contests, but his profile has risen with the basketball season. He loves playing the anthem live.

Kyle Warner

“It’s kind of like my thing. I really like it,” he said.

The boys’ basketball team has been drawing large crowds to most of its games, none more crowded than a January game against Salesianum. He tries to not let the size of the crowd affect him.

“I’ve never played in front of this many people before, but, really, it’s just going through the motions again,” he said.

Warner said he had been to a baseball game where Metallica played the anthem, so he learned it. He has heard the Jimi Hendrix version from Woodstock. Some of the guitarists he holds in high esteem are Eddie Van Halen, Jimmy Page and his favorite, Randy Rhoads.

“Guys who used to shred,” he said.

He added that his grandmother went to Sunday school with George Thorogood, the Wilmington native who is the founder, lead guitarist and singer for George Thorogood and the Destroyers.

The north Wilmington resident picked up the guitar during the coronavirus pandemic when there weren’t a lot of sports going on. He and his father restrung an old bass, and the attraction was instant.

“I played bass for about two years, and I think I’ve been playing guitar for about two years now,” he said.

In addition to music, Warner is involved in the performing arts in other ways at St. Elizabeth. He arrived at the school as a seventh-grader and played the lead in “Clue” when he was in eighth grade. He has been involved in every play and musical since, often playing the lead. In April, he will play Mal, the love interest of Wednesday Addams, in the school’s production of “The Addams Family.”

Since he doesn’t have the primary role in the play, he will be able to be part of the track team in the spring. Warner said he runs the 800 and a relay, and he does the long jump. He is trying to experience as much as he can while in high school.

“My biggest passion is music,” he said. “But I try and find the ability to do everything here. Just to get as many experiences as possible. If I can get into something, even if it’s not all the way, I would just love to do as many things as possible. Becoming a fan of different things.”

Warner began at St. Elizabeth when one of his older siblings started high school there. He said he likes the school’s small size, which makes the education very individualized and provides many opportunities that may not exist at a larger school. He has gained a measure of notoriety because of his anthem rendition.

“I swear I get called Jimi Hendrix 10 times a day,” he said. “The fans love it, especially the dads. It’s great.”

Next year, he’ll be studying at Washington College in Chestertown, Md., where he hopes to major in a music-related discipline.

“I’ve never gotten any formal training or lessons. Any way I can hone my talent would be practical for me,” he said.

He has dreams of stardom, but he’s a realist.

“I feel like even if I can get involved in something safer that still involves music, like maybe audio engineering or audio production, that is something I would like to do.”