O Canada: Raptors Go for Celebrity Free National Anthem in Game 5 of NBA Finals

June 10, 2019 Updated: June 10, 2019

TORONTO—Canada, this national anthem is for you.

As the Toronto Raptors head into a potentially historic Game 5 in the NBA Finals on Monday, there won’t be a famous face singing O Canada at the Scotiabank Arena.

Instead, the NBA says it will be up to “all fans” inside the venue, and across the country, to sing loud and proud.

Chantal Romain, the NBA’s spokeswoman, told The Canadian Press that longtime national anthem performer Doug Tranquada will lead the crowd inside the venue.

Recent televised games have featured live feeds of Raptors fans at public viewing parties across the country.

The Star-Spangled Banner will still be performed by a familiar vocalist—Grammy-winning R&B singer Monica, best known for her chart-topping duet “The Boy is Mine” with Brandy.

Fans reacted warmly on social media to the planned rendition, with some welcoming “thinking outside the box” and saying the moment was sure to elicit “goosebumps.”

Celebrity performances of Canada’s national anthem, however, have drawn mixed reviews during the NBA Finals.

Saskatchewan-born country singer Tenille Arts faced some backlash on social media after Game 3 as several people accused her of “butchering” the anthem by veering away from its familiar tune. Walk Off the Earth divided audiences for Game 4 when the four members gathered around a triple-necked string instrument for an acoustic folk version of O Canada.

Pop singer Alessia Cara fared better at Game 2 when she paused her a capella performance mid-song to let Raptors fans take the spotlight and largely sing the rest.

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