CANADIAN SINGER OVERCOMES FEAR OF BOOING IN PREPARATION FOR NATIONAL ANTHEM PERFORMANCE AT NOVEMBER 13TH CANADIENS @ ISLANDERS HOCKEY GAME

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Some anthem singers are still on pins and needles during pre-game performances at major league sporting events, for fear of being booed by rowdy fans. The booing trend started at a hockey game in Montreal when Canadian fans protested the US led invasion of Iraq by booing during the singing of the US anthem. After that, booing at hockey games and other major league events continued to go back and forth between the US/Canada borders.

Earlier this year, New York City based, Torontonian singer and anti-poverty advocate, Angela McKenzie, watched a TV sports report in horror, as the performer of the Canadian national anthem was booed before a hockey game. The booing was the American fans response to 21,000+ Canadian fans that booed the “Star Spangled Banner” at an earlier match-up between the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Islanders at Montreal’s Bell Centre. In the pre game ceremonies, the Montreal crowd was asked to “show your support and respect for two great nations” before the singing of the American and Canadian national anthems, however in an apparent protest against the Bush administration’s decision to invade and occupy Iraq, the majority of the French Canadian crowd booed throughout the American anthem. Following the game, Pierre Boivin, president of the Montreal Canadiens issued an apologetic statement on behalf of his team and patrons. Said Boivin, “The Montreal Canadiens organization has always held a high respect for its neighbours and friends in the United States, and we look forward to maintaining this strong and positive relationship.” Adding, “We apologize to anyone who may have been offended by this incident, and would encourage all fans at the Bell Centre to conduct themselves in a manner worthy of our game and our two great nations.” Despite Boivin’s apology, the Canadian anthem was booed at match-ups between the Ottawa Senators and Florida Panthers, the Senators and Atlanta Thrashers, then the booing trend even extended into other major league sports arenas.

Today, the initial stage of the US led invasion of Iraq is complete, the occupation stage is tediously underway, and on Thursday November 13th, Angela McKenzie will sing both the Canadian and American anthems at Nassau Coliseum, NY where the Canadiens and Islanders will face each other again. Says McKenzie, “I am still a little shell shocked by the image of the booed anthem singer at the hockey arena however I am very honored that the Islanders have invited me to represent both Canada and the United States, by performing both anthems.”

She adds, “In August, I sang both anthems at Dodger Stadium, when the LA Dodgers hosted the Montreal Expos and I was not jeered, in fact I was cheered. That experience boosted my confidence and I believe that East Coast hockey fans are just as generous and supportive as baseball fans on the West Coast.” A self-described “peacenik” McKenzie left her Toronto hometown for the big Apple a few years ago, to pursue her dream of mixing music with humanitarianism. During her early days in NYC she experienced hunger and near homelessness but thereafter she became a consultant at United Nations headquarters and a promoter of concerts/food drives, to benefit the city’s needy. Today, she is the founder and chair of her own arts for anti-poverty, not-profit organization, The AMcK Initiative, Inc. whose slogan is Food for the Body and Music for the Soul. McKenzie believes if people the world over are given their fundamental human rights, including the right to food security, the likelihood of war and strained human relations will be reduced to a bare minimum. Furthermore, when there are no wars or strife, there will be plenty of reasons to sing and no reason for hissing and booing on any occasion. McKenzie has gained support for her musical and humanitarian mission from sponsors that include; Charles de Montebello’s CDM Sound Studios NYC, WB Mason, Ben & Jerry’s, The Village Voice, Jeff Bridges End Hunger Network and Rock The Vote. More information about McKenzie and The Initiative can be viewed at http://www.theamckinitiative.org.

Angela McKenzie looks forward to performing her acappella renditions of “O Canada!” and “The Star Spangled Banner” without a hitch. She says, “Both anthems are very beautiful and musically challenging, but I must admit that I get an even greater kick out of singing some of the Canadian anthem en francais.”

The game between the Montreal Canadiens and New York Islanders will air at 7:00 PM eastern time. For station details, check your local listings.

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