Lauren Hart grew up with Philadelphia Flyers hockey. Her father was the late Gene Hart, a Hockey Hall of Famer and the first “voice” of the Philadelphia Flyers when they joined the NHL in 1967, a job he held until 1995.
Lauren Hart had a passion for the sport, due to her father’s involvement. Her other passion was music, a passion she pursued at Temple University, in Philadelphia, where she majored in music. Hart moved from place to place in pursuit of a musical career before a chance encounter with former Philadelphia 76er Charles Barkley. Hart and Barkley began to talk about Philadelphia and Hart realized just how much she had missed her home, and decided to return. Her father, Gene Hart, became ill, which was another reason to return back to the city of brotherly love.
About a year later, Lauren Hart began to sing the National Anthem before Flyers home games at the then, Corestates Center, now the Wells Fargo Center. Hart’s father Gene passed away in 1999, and the love Flyer fans had for Gene Hart quickly molded into support for Lauren. Aside from a missing a few games here and there, Hart suffered from non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2000 which caused her to miss a handful of games, Hart has been a mainstay as the Flyers anthem singer.
Before big Flyers games, mostly for the playoffs, Hart sings a duet of “God Bless America” with the late Kate Smith. In 1969 the Flyers began to play a recording of Smith’s “God Bless America” before Flyers home games. A tradition grew, due to the Flyers overwhelmingly positive record when Smith’s rendition was played. Before long, Smith would appear live to sing before important Flyers games.
The tradition continues along with Lauren Hart, who shares the spotlight with a video recording of Kate Smith singing “God Bless America.”
Before tonight’s Philadelphia Flyers/Boston Bruins Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, Hart will once again share the stage with Smith for “God Bless America.” However, it has a special meaning, tonight. With the news of the death of Osama Bin Laden, last night, American pride is in full-force.
The Versus network, who will broadcast the Flyers and Bruins tonight, announced that they will show Lauren Hart’s performance of “God Bless America,” in it’s entirety. A great move by Versus, allowing a large portion of the country to witness a remarkable part of Flyers history that, tonight, has a much longer reach than just the Philadelphia area.
Here’s a sneak peak of what you’re in for tonight, if you’ve never seen “God Bless America” performed before a Flyers game: