Gladys Knight to Sing National Anthem at Super Bowl LIII

Following the controversy surrounding the performances for the 53rd Super Bowl, the National Football League announced Gladys Knight will sing the National Anthem at the football event.

On Thursday (January 17), it was confirmed that the seven-time Grammy Award-winner will sing as part of the Super Bowl LIII pregame festivities at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in her hometown of Atlanta, Georgia. “I am proud to use my voice to unite and represent our country in my hometown of Atlanta,” Knight said in a statement. “The NFL recently announced their new social justice platform Inspire Change, and I am honored to be a part of its inaugural year.”

Since 2016, many protested the NFL in support of former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and other NFL players right to kneel during the National Anthem. Shortly after announcing the news, Knight received backlash from fans after many called to boycott the sport event.

In response, Knight shared her stance on singing at the event and the NFL’s treatment of Kaepernick. “I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice,” Knight wrote in a statement per Variety. “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.”

“I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the Anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good — I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s Anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl LIII.

No matter who chooses to deflect with this narrative and continue to mix these two in the same message, it is not so and cannot be made so by anyone speaking it.  I pray that this National Anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us.”

Knight joins fellow Atlanta Native Big Boi, Travis Scott and Maroon 5, who are all set to hit the stage on February 3rd .

Photo Credit: LOS ANGELES, CA – OCTOBER 09: Gladys Knight attends the 2018 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on October 9, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)