“I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice,” Knight said in her statement to 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.”
She also tied in her longtime activism and called for unity: “I am here today and on Sunday, February 3rd 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.”
Read Knight’s full statement via Variety.
Gladys Knight has been tapped to perform the National Anthem during the Super Bowl LIII pregame festivities on February 3rd at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, in Atlanta, Georgia, the NFL announced.
“I am proud to use my voice to unite and represent our country and my hometown of Atlanta,” the songstress 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.” The Inspire Change initiative is intended to highlight players, owners and the NFL’s collaborative efforts to “create positive change in communities across the country.”
Knight joins Big Boi, who will perform during the halftime show alongside Maroon 5 and Travis Scott, in representing their hometown during the Super Bowl events. Some controversy has surrounded this year’s Super Bowl performance lineup, with several artists boycotting events related to the game, including Rihanna and Cardi B turning down the halftime show in support of Colin Kaepernick. Scott’s appearance was reportedly contingent on the NFL making a joint $500,000 charitable donation to Van Jones’ social justice organization, Dream Corps.
Several other music events are scheduled leading up to the Big Game. On Saturday, February 2nd, Rolling Stone hosts Rolling Stone Live: Atlanta at Goat Farm Arts Center, which features performances by Ludacris and Young Thug, as well as Gunna and Lil Keed. The event will also showcase DJ sets from the Roots’ Questlove. Meanwhile, Aerosmith, Bruno Mars and Cardi B are set to perform during the three-day Super Bowl Music Fest.