08 February 2010

Anna Case the Patriot

The Somerset Patriots will be auditioning singers Saturday, March 6, at the Menlo Park Mall. They are looking for talented individuals to sing the National Anthem at home games this upcoming season. It would be fitting if at least one of the chosen soloists was a Hillsborough resident, since one of the most renowned Anthem singers of the 20th century was Hillsborough's own Anna Case.

Beginning on the eve of the first World War, the Metropolitan Opera soprano began including the Star Spangled Banner in her concert performances. She often appeared on stage draped in an American flag, singing and asking the audience to buy Liberty Bonds.

1918 magazine advertisement for Liberty Bonds.
 

The song was so well received that she recorded a popular version for the Edison record label.

1917 Edison Records ad.



A quarter century before Bob Hope took to the road, Anna was entertaining the troops at military camps across the country, sometimes delivering an Edison phonograph and assortment of discs for the soldiers to enjoy, as she did during a visit to the Army camp in Sea Girt pictured below.


Anna Case at the Sea Girt Army Camp, 1917


Having gained a reputation as THE Anthem singer, Anna Case became the go-to soloist whenever the Star Spangled Banner was needed - most notably at the 1924 Democratic National Convention at Madison Square Garden, where the only way to calm the boisterous partisan crowds was to call Miss Case to the stage. With arms outstretched, the first notes of the Anthem so "stirred the hearts of the multitude", that a near riot was transformed into a "reverent tribute" to the late President Woodrow Wilson.

1924 newspaper clipping

By 1927, it was almost unheard of for any singer OTHER than Anna Case to be called on to sing the anthem at a public event. That's why it was big news when a bumbling entertainment coordinator unwittingly booked both Miss Case and another soloist to sing the Anthem at the New York reception for Charles Lindbergh following his return to America after his solo flight across the Atlantic.



Even her semi-retirement from the concert stage following her 1931 marriage to telegraph tycoon Charles Mackay couldn't temper Anna's patriotic spirit. She continued to deliver the Anthem wherever and whenever needed, right up through World War II - sometimes including her own composition "Our America", one of a number of patriotic tunes penned by the talented singer.

1943 newspaper clipping


There is perhaps one engagement Anna Case did not play. I haven't been able to find an account of her singing the Star Spangled Banner at the start of a ball game.

Here's you chance! For information about the auditions, click here.

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