Boston Bruins Anthem Singer Rene Rancourt Dishes On Retirement And Ending On A High Note

He has been the voice of the Boston Bruins for more than four decades singing the national anthem before every home game at the TD Garden. So, when Rene Rancourt announced last month he is planning to retire at the end of this hockey season, the tuxedo-wearing Lewiston, Maine native saddened many hockey fans.

Some Bostonians might not realize that before serenading Bruins fans at the Garden, Rancourt actually debuted his talent at Fenway Park singing the national anthem before Red Sox fans. Almost as famous as his voice is Rancourt’s signature fist-pump at the end of the anthem, which was modeled after former Bruins player Randy Burridge’s “Stump Pump.” The US Army veteran also finishes every performance by saluting the men and women who have served or are presently serving in the armed forces.

Rene RancourtPhoto Credit: Murray Hill Talent

We caught up recently with Rancourt to find out why he decided this was the year to retire, what makes for a one-fist pump night or three and what he is most looking forward to when he retires. (The Bruins will honor him during their final season home game on April 8 at the Garden).

You have spent more than four decades singing the “Star-Spangled Banner” in front of Boston’s black and gold fans. What made you decide that 2018 would be the year that you finally retire?

It’s been an honor and a privilege to have been the Boston Bruins singer for so many years. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I’ve always tried to give 110%. In order to do that, my preparation has been very important. I’ve had to be warmed up and well rested in order to give the anthem the performance it deserves. As the years go by, it feels more difficult to feel secure and pumped up. I feel that 2018 is a perfect time to end on a “high note.”

What are you most looking forward to doing in retirement?

In 41 years, I don’t ever remember canceling the Bruins. I’d like to thank those hockey fans who have been generous with their applause even when I’ve sung “under the weather.” Now I can finally “enjoy” a bad cold without the additional stress of an upcoming game. In 41 years, there were countless functions and family events that my poor wife attended without me. Now I can relax and enjoy them with her.

What made the night a one fist pump or three?

People don’t realize that the number of pumps is, to a great degree, spontaneous. I never plan it ahead of time. Remember, pump is what the heart does and I try hard to sing the anthem with a lot of heart and people seem to respond to that. My hope is that the pumps motivate and excite the fans, the team and those watching at home.

Rene RancourtPhoto Credit: Murray Hill Talent

Why did you decide to always wear a tuxedo during your performances?

Inevitably, a Bruins game would fall on a night that my band and I were booked for a wedding. So as not to disappoint the bride, I would sing the anthem wearing my tux and rush to her wedding. At first, it felt like I was overdressed for the game, but eventually it became an expression of what the Bruins and our national anthem mean to me. So, why not show it?

What was your most memorable experience at the Garden?

There are many memorable experiences throughout the years. I remember getting a last minute phone call to replace Kelsey Grammer at the Hockey All Star Game held in Boston in 1996. Participating in the ring ceremony when I received my own Championship ring in 2011 (thank you, Jeremy Jacobs) and the closing of the old Garden and opening of the new are definitely unforgettable. But the number one highlight is, of course, the thunderous singing of the fans, some with tears, the first game after the Marathon bombing. They took over and showed the world what “Boston Strong” meant. Truly a viral night.

We all know what fans will miss when you leave – the first pumping, the operatic voice and the enthusiastic delivery.  What will you miss most?

I’ll miss showing my Stanley Cup ring to the excited crowd, especially the very young fans, as they shout encouragement during those anxious moments before the walk on the long red carpet. The scene is set when the applause builds and Jim Martin, the Garden announcer, says, “Would you all please rise as we honor America for the singing of the national anthem,” and Ron Poster, the Garden organist, leads me smoothly into the “Star Spangled Banner.” The experience is truly unique. What a feeling!

How many fist pumps can we expect in your final performance?

There will be four pumps and you can bet on it!

  1. For the Bruins players and coaches
  2. For my family in the stands and those watching at home
  3. For the Bruins fans who always made me feel loved
  4. For one final goodbye pump sprinkled with a few tears