09/09/2009 - (HERSHEY, PA) — The Hershey Bears are proud to announce the 2009-2010 anthem singers. All individuals were asked to submit a one-minute audio and/or video recording containing a rendition of the Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America, and O' Canada. After reviewing the audition tapes the Bears staff narrowed it down to ten finalists, who came to Giant Center for a live audition. Following auditions, nine individuals were chosen to sing at the start of various home games. The anthem singers and short biographies are listed below in alphabetical order.
Leslie Barton comes from Mountville, Pennsylvania. She is a Hempfield High School graduate and is currently a senior business student at Millersville University. While growing up, Leslie performed in talent shows, musicals, churches, choirs and even toured Europe with American Music Abroad. In 2005, Leslie was crowned the winner of Lancaster Headliners where she performed at the American Music Theatre in Lancaster, PA. In 2008, Leslie had the opportunity to perform at Spotlight Live in the heart of Times Square, NYC. She has also been a featured performer for Countdown Lancaster and a national anthem singer for the Philadelphia Eagles. Currently focusing on her song-writing, she hopes to someday become an established singer/songwriter and tour the world with her music. In the meantime, Leslie is thrilled to sing for the Hershey Bears for her fifth season. She thanks God for blessing her with an amazing gift and the opportunities to share it. She would also like to thank her family and friends for their continued love and support.
Michael Benson is honored to sing for the Hershey Bears for a sixth season. He is a graduate of Milton Hershey High School and Pennsylvania State University, earned his CPA, and is employed at the Pennsylvania Securities Commission as the Deputy Chief Accountant. Michael attends Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Mechanicsburg and serves as a member of the Praise Team. In addition to singing, Michael and his family actively host foreign exchange students and enjoy teaching them about American life and history. He is a proud father of two sons and two daughters and an exchange daughter from Germany. Michael's wife and family reside in Enola. The entire family hopes the Bears have another exciting championship season.
Brandon W. Bitner, 25, is a native of Hershey. Brandon has earned an Associate of the Arts degree in Professional Music from the School for Music Vocations at Southwestern Community College in Creston, Iowa. He has also earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Mansfield University. Brandon is a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Fraternity and is the new lead singer of local band, Short Bus Heroes.
Lesa Close is a graduate of Azusa Pacific University in Southern California. After living in California for twenty-five years, she decided to become a Pennsylvania resident in 2008, and proudly calls Harrisburg "home". Lesa has been passionate about music her entire life, and has spent a great deal of time refining and sharing her gift--which includes playing seven instruments—through singing at church, weddings, school choirs, and by giving music lessons. Lesa is very active in her church--East Shore Baptist Church of Harrisburg--and is the guitarist and one of the female lead vocalists on the worship team. Lesa currently works for a lobbying firm in downtown Harrisburg, but would eventually like to spend her time helping and serving others who are in need. She became a regular national anthem soloist while in college, and is thrilled to have been selected as a singer for the Bears.
Laura has a passion for singing and doesn't usually turn down an opportunity to do so. She has been singing ever since she can remember, participating in school choir, church and wedding performances, local sporting events, Lehigh Valley's May Fair and the Philadelphia 76ers. She also grew up in a family that loves hockey, so singing for the Hershey Bears is always exciting. Laura is a graduate of Penn State University with a degree in Corporate Communication and has worked in the fields of marketing and promotion. Originally from the Lehigh Valley, she is a proud wife and mother who now resides in central Pennsylvania. Laura feels blessed to be able to share her God-given talent and to have the support and love of her family.
Krista Jakubik was born and raised in Hummelstown and lived there most of her life. She attended Shipppensburg University and received her Bachelor's Degree in Elementary Education. After teaching in Norfolk City Schools, in Virginia, she moved back home to Hummelstown and currently teaches Kindergarten Readiness at Derry Preschool in Hershey. Krista lives with her three children Andy, Katie and Joe, and her two dogs, Bubba and Booboo. Krista has been singing since she was 10 years old and has been for 41 years. She is a member of Grace United Methodist church in Hummelstown and is very active with the music program. In addition to being in the adult choir, she sings solos and special music and also produces, directs and sometimes performs in the annual children's spring musical. Musical Theatre has always been a favorite of Krista's. Her Grace family has been such a great support system for her, as well as her children and her "sweetheart" Nelson and for that she thanks them. She feels blessed to be able to share her voice and is glad to be given the chance. This will be Krista's third season with the Bears and she's really looking forward to it. She's honored to be back with the "Calder Cup" Champions. Let's go Bears!
Erin Kelly is 14 years old and a student at Orefield Middle School. She sings for numerous charities across the region and is a member of DreamKids—a group of children that raise over $14,000 each year for chronically and terminally ill children to be granted a wish through the Dream Come True Foundation. She opened up at Fallfest in Lancaster at age 10 for radio station WIOV. She has performed at the Capitol in Harrisburg, the Capitol Reflecting Pool in Washington, D.C., and for the Philadelphia Phillies and 76ers. She also performed at half-time at the season opener for the New York Knicks in 2007. She is honored to be singing for the Hershey Bears again this season.
Amy Beniston Lambert, who resides with her husband in Hummelstown, has been singing with the Hershey Bears since the good 'ol days back in the "barn." Amy holds an associates degree in Theater from Harrisburg Area Community College and has been singing and acting since the age of 10. She has performed in churches, weddings, college productions, and community theater. In addition to singing, she has also been seen in commercials for Lowes, Hersheypark, Stauffers of Kissel Hill, and the movie "Girl Interrupted." Right now she is happily enjoying newlywed bliss. My love goes out to my parents, my brother (my favorite game companion besides my dad), my in-laws, and most of all, my amazing husband, Leon. All of you have been such a wonderful support to me and I can't tell you how much I love you for that!! Best of luck to the Bears. Make the season last until June!