Gladys Knight, known as “The Empress Of Soul,” says she wants to “give the anthem back its voice” when she performs “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Big Game next month.
The comment came in response to Variety asking the legendary singer what her stance is on how the NFL has treated former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.
The league’s alleged mistreatment of Kaepernick over his decision to kneel during the national anthem in protest of racial injustice has effectively cost him his NFL career. It’s also prompted harsh criticism from his supporters of Super Bowl halftime performers Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi, and is said to have prompted other music stars, including Rihanna, Cardi B and JAY Z, to decline invitations to appear during the game.
Knight wrote in her statement to Variety.
“I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice. 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.”
Knight goes on to say, “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… 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.”
Knight’s statement ends: “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.”
Super Bowl (The Big Game) 53 will take place at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium Sunday, February 3rd.