Filipino-Canadian in Focus: Heather Liscano

By , on November 20, 2014


Heather Liscano performing the Canadian and American national anthems in front of Calgary Flames fans at the Saddledome.
Heather Liscano performing the Canadian and American national anthems in front of Calgary Flames fans at the Saddledome.

Each country, whether deserved or not, has stereotypes attached to it. for Filipinos, a common one is that they all just love to sing and dance. For Canadians, it’s that they just love the crazy sport of hockey.

So then what is one of the most Filipino-Canadian things you can do? How about singing at hockey games!

That is what Heather Liscano from Calgary Alberta has been doing for the past 16 years as the opening anthem singer for the Calgary Flames of the National Hockey League.

Heather’s family came to Canada in the 70’s: first her aunts and uncles, then her parents, and finally her grand-parents. She was born in Calgary in 1976, and has lived her entire life in the city.

Heather said that she was born to sing.

“My mom said I used to make up songs as soon as I started to vocalize, and then when I was able to start speaking I would sing,” she said.

Music has always been a big part of her family. “I can’t remember a time when we didn’t sing as a group, whether we were celebrating birthdays or having get-togethers during Christmas time,” she said.

And it was over the course of these encounters that her parents decided she had the ear and the talents for music, so they put her in lessons to help her hone the craft.

As she was growing up, Heather sang for events, and entered into talent contests and competitions. It was during one of these contests that she got her first chance to sing for the Calgary Flames.

At the Calgary Stampede, a major annual festival held in Calgary, Heather won a talent competition after her third year of competing, and was invited to sing the anthem as a guest for the Calgary Flames.

Two years later, while she was in university, one of her friends that was working for the Calgary Flames at the time informed her that the Flames were looking for a regular singer to replace the outgoing singer. Heather’s friend encouraged her to try out.

“I told my boss, and he was supportive, he said ‘okay if I let you get off work then you better get the job,” he said.

So Heather auditioned, and was invited back the next day. She had to ask her boss for another day off.

“I had to go back to my boss and ask ‘could I miss work again today?’ and he said ‘Now you really better get it!,” she said.

After one more audition, Heather was offered the gig for the 1998-1999 hockey season. At first she was slowly phased in, but by the mid-2000’s she was singing the majority (around 37 of 41) of home games for the Calgary Flames.

Heather said it took over seven years of regular appearances before she was finally able to get over her nervousness of singing the Canadian and American anthems in front of the crowd at the Saddledome, the iconic stadium where the Calgary Flames play their home games.

“For the first seven years I was really nervous, my hand would be visibly shaking, that’s how nervous I was,” she said.

But it was also good training for her too, as she pursued a musical career outside of her role as the Flames’ anthem singer.

“Just being in the flow doing something you love . . . anybody who is a performer is really striving for excellence. You will eventually discover that whole mental dimension of what you believe. If I can just get into the flow, then everything will be fine,” she said.

The singing job with the Calgary Flames complemented her other roles in her life. She would regularly perform at venues and clubs. She taught band and choir on and off for 12 years while she was raising her five children. Heather also taught in the studio, mostly vocals and piano keyboard, though she also knows the tenor saxophone and some guitar.

The highlight for Heather was being part of the Calgary Flames organization when they made the playoffs again after a 7 year drought, and also all of the nights where various people such as veterans and Olympians and other special people were honoured by the Flames organization in front of the home crowd of thousands.

“Any time we honour our community or family, our city of Calgary, our Saddledome family, other Canadians, there are so many things going on that we don’t realize. It’s special when we as a group get to celebrate and recog-nize these people and their achievements,” she said.

This year, after 16 seasons, and after becoming known and respected by Flames fans and Calgarians alike, Heather decided it was time to move on to other pursuits. She approached her bosses in the Calgary Flames head offices and said she was ready to move on.

“I said I’m ready to retire. I felt really complete with my experience . . . it’s been such a wonderful juncture in my life, getting to perform, and being part of our city,” she said.

Her last performance as the anthem singer for the Calgary Flames was on October 8 of this year, at the Calgary Flames’ home opener for the 2014-2015 season. When it was announced that she would be retiring from her role as anthem singer, she was met with much applause from the crowd.

“I didn’t really think that this would be so long and enduring.  I was just really appreciative to be there and to have the opportunity to sing one game at a time, it was really phenomenal just to be part of celebrating our anthems right before the game that we love so much,” she added.

Heather has now started a mortgage broker business (yourmortgagelady.ca), but she still has her heart set on mu-sic. Specifically, producing her own original music. And it is clear that music will forever be a part of her life.

“In terms of my musical passions, there’s been a lot of songwriting. I would eventually like to produce original material. I have a lot of original material that I’ve never had time to get together,” she said.

“I’m passionate about writing and performing that original material. In terms of music, that’s what I’m excited about,” she added.