Super Bowl: Gladys Knight to sing national anthem ahead of Rams vs Patriots

Empress of Soul follows in the footsteps of Beyoncé, Aretha Franklin, Cher and more

Clémence Michallon
New York
@Clemence_Mcl
Sunday 03 February 2019 23:57
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Gladys Knight performs onstage during the 2018 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on 9 October, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.
Gladys Knight performs onstage during the 2018 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on 9 October, 2018 in Los Angeles, California.

The National Anthem performance is one of the most solemn moments prior to the Super Bowl kick-off – and this year it will be performed by illustrious singer Gladys Knight.

It was announced in January that Knight, also known as the Empress of Soul, would sing "The Star-Spangled Banner" at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia, for the sporting event.

Throughout her five-decade career, Knight, now 74, has established herself as a legacy singer of pop, gospel and R&B.

"Midnight Train to Georgia", which she recorded with her group The Pips, topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, as did the cover of "That's What Friends Are For" that she released in 1985 with Dionne Warwick, Elton John and Stevie Wonder.

Knight has won seven Grammy Awards and was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996 together with the Pips.

"I am proud to use my voice to unite and represent our country in my hometown of Atlanta," Knight said in a statement published by the NFL when the league first announced her as this year's anthem singer.

By performing "The Star-Spangled Banner" prior to the Super Bowl, Knight follows in the footsteps of artists such as Beyoncé, Aretha Franklin, Cher and many more.

Back when the NFL first revealed Knight would sing the National Anthem, the singer faced criticism from some who thought her decision to accept the gig undermined the activism of Colin Kaepernick.

Kaepernick famously started kneeling during the National Anthem in 2016 before games, to protest police brutality as well as the oppression of black people and people of colour.

Knight addressed the criticism, telling Variety she understood that Kaepernick was protesting injustice as well as police violence.

“It is unfortunate that our National Anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the National Anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone," she told the publication.

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In addition to Knight's performance, performer and deaf activist Aaron Loggins was picked to sign the National Anthem and "America the Beautiful" in American Sign Language.

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