LOS ANGELES – It was a normal day for Courtney Daniels.
A member of the Los Angeles Kings Ice Crew, she was preparing for the NHL All-Star Game, where she would skate during timeouts and shovel away ice shavings. It something she’s done during Kings home games for the last two seasons.
Then her phone rang. And things got surreal.
“They were like, ‘Fifth Harmony just dropped out. We need you to sing the national anthem.’ And I was like, ‘What is going on? What is happening?’”
Just 13 minutes later, she walked out to the ice, with the PA announcer telling the crowd that instead of pop stars Fifth Harmony singing the national anthem, it would be Courtney Daniels.
Fifth Harmony warmed up before the game at Staples Center on Sunday, but just before the NHL All-Star Game they had to pull out, due to a sudden illness to one of its members. This enraged the Harmonizers, and it put the NHL in a bit of a spot. But much like an emergency goalie pulled out of the crowd to play in an NHL game, Daniels was called on to save the national anthem.
“It was such a shock to have to sing in 13 minutes. No time to warm up or anything. Just thrown out there. Just get out there and go,” she said.
That she did, and she rocked it.
In full disclosure: It wasn’t her first time singing the anthem to an arena full of fans.
It was her third time. Ever.
Daniels sang “O Canada” at a Los Angeles Kings game once, but had several days to prepare for it. Last week, she performed the anthem at an AHL Ontario Reign game.
This time, it was before a sold out Staples Center and an audience of millions internationally, including on NBC in the U.S.
“I honestly wasn’t thinking about that. I was thinking about how it was an emergency, they needed me to fill in and I better remember the words,” she said.
“I just felt bad for everyone in the audience. They were waiting for, like, celebrity status, and here’s some random girl filling in and ‘hope you guys enjoy it!’”
Daniels said two things calmed her down. First was hearing Carly Rae Jepsen sing “O Canada” before the game. “I actually made me more calm when I heard her sing. It’s just a song, and I’m excited and honored to be able to sing next to her,” she said.
The second was hearing the crowd react when she was announced as Fifth Harmony’s replacement. “When they announce they dropped out, and said here’s an LA Kings Ice Girl … the roaring, cheering was amazing. That made me calm down. That’s when I knew I got this,” she said.
After the anthem, Daniels went back to work, skating the snow away during breaks in the action. The NHL brought her back after the All-Star Game, and she presented the MVP Award to Wayne Simmonds.
She’s not sure what this sudden exposure will mean for her career. Daniels didn’t check social media or her phone after the performance, as she was too nervous. But the immediate reaction was positive – from the NHL Hall of Famers standing on the ice during the national anthem.
“Someone on my team was watching the legends, like Gretzky and them, and they gave each other a thumbs-up when I was singing,” she said.
“The fact that I got their approval, that I was dope, was such a cool moment. I got that at least.”
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