Recording artist Lauren Hart was, quite literally, born into the Philadelphia Flyers family. The daughter of Hall of Fame announcer Gene Hart, the legendary voice of the team from their 1967 debut through the 1994-95 season, Lauren was fell in love with music in the second grade and began performing at Flyers games while still in junior high school. In 1997, after signing with Columbia Records and recording her first album, Painted Bride, Lauren began singing the Star-Spangled Banner before every Flyers home game. But in 1999, shortly after the death of her father, Hart learned she had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, a blood cancer with a 50-50 rate of survival. She was dropped by Columbia Records and was without health insurance while undergoing intensive cancer treatment. She found strength, though, in the Flyers fans, who supported her as she continued to perform each night.
Lauren’s rendition of the National Anthem appears on the soundtrack of the Disney film Miracle, and in 2005, she was voted the best anthem singer in NHL history in a Hockey News poll. Lauren recently released her sixth album, Awakening, and her introspective lyrics and soaring vocals are critically-acclaimed. She has performed at the Presidential Inauguration, where she shared the stage with Bill Clinton, and has opened for such acts as Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Train and 10,000 Maniacs.
In addition to her musical career, Lauren is a peer counselor for cancer patients, and has served as the spokesperson for Penn Medicine’s cancer program at Kennedy Hospital. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Pennsylvania Hospital Cancer Center, and is an honorary board member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Southern New Jersey Chapter. She has been honored by the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with its prestigious “Person of the Year” Award and named “Humanitarian of the Year” by the Friends of the American Cancer Society.
Lauren has also served as co-host of Philadelphia news and variety show NBC 10! and currently hosts All Hart!, focusing on the Philadelphia entertainment scene. She recently scored and executive-produced Race to the Bottom of the Earth, a documentary chronicling her husband Todd Carmichael’s record-setting solo trek across Antarctica, and she writes the music for Todd’s reality television series, Dangerous Grounds, on the Travel Channel.
Lauren and Todd — who have four adopted children from Ethopia — have worked tirelessly on behalf of the children and families in Ethiopia and Uganda in the form of micro loans, family sponsorship, education and farming.
For more information, visit www.laurenhart.com.
What did you learn from your father? How did he shape who you are today?
I learned from him by watching. He was always prepared, worked hard, and took every opportunity that came his way. He was the consummate pro in every way. He told me to sing every chance I got and to learn all I could, because when those rare opportunities roll around, you’re ready. He was so right. He loved what he did and so do I.
What do you enjoy most about performing? And more specifically, what do you enjoy most about performing the National Anthem and God Bless America at Flyers games?
I live hockey and I LOVE Philly fans. They have stood beside me through thick and thin. They have made me their family and have honored me by showing me the same respect and love that they showed my dad all those years.
Kate Smith’s rendition of “God Bless America” is an iconic part of Flyers lore, and your duets with her are equally inspiring. How did the idea of performing alongside her recording come about?
The idea was created by the former Flyers president Ron Ryan. He was inspired by Natalie Cole’s duet with her dad. It was an amazing idea and it just worked, from the very first time I sang it with her. It’s a piece of my dad’s era that I feel lucky to be able to share in. I never saw her sing of course, but if you know the Flyers, you know Kate Smith.
Over the course of your life as a Flyers fan, which players have you most enjoyed watching?
I loved Keith Primeau, Eric Lindros, Bill Barber and Bob Clarke as a kid, and Wayne Gretzky, who was just incredible to watch, and now Giroux and, soon to come, Gostisbehere!
In your time watching and attending Flyers games, are there any specific games over the years that you most fondly remember? Any particular raucous crowds or memorable team performances?
I remember the performance I gave in 2000 against the Devils, we were one win away from going to the Stanley Cup, crazy exciting game in Philly. I had also just learned I was in remission. We didn’t win the game that night but for me, the season was a victory.
What did you learn about yourself during your battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma?
I learned that I am stronger than my fear.
What do the Flyers need to do this upcoming season in order to improve on last season’s first round playoff exit?
Wow, the million dollar question. The only thing I can come up with is this: Just like music, in a band you can have the greatest musician and still no hit song. It’s that magic combination that happens when you put the right talent together. I think we might be a little short right now, but it’s coming and soon. Bernie Parent told me we are winning the cup with Mason. I don’t know when but it’s gonna happen.
What does it mean to you to be a part of the Flyers organization?
Beyond words. They are my family. They are my whole childhood and in them, my dad lives. When I was at the worst time in my life, they lifted me up and every game that’s what I try to do. Lift everyone up, sing my heart out and embrace that minute and a half when everything is perfect.
What’s the best meal you’ve had recently?
Best meal I’ve had lately was at my husband’s new cafe in Fishtown, La Colombe. Kale salad, incredible bread, and grits in an iron skillet!
For you, what was the most rewarding aspect of adopting children?
I love my kids like crazy! We were meant to be. They are so good, happy, appreciative, hopeful and strong. The most rewarding thing is hearing your child say “you are the best mom in the world.” We built a family out of the worst circumstances but have come out joyful. We understand one another, their little hearts have been through tough times and still they are standing strong. I’m inspired by my babies.
What are you working on next?
I compose all the music for my husband’s TV show Dangerous Grounds on Travel Channel, I am in the middle of filming my own TV show, and I’m writing new music which will be out in 2015. Life is good.