Legendary soul singer Gladys Knight said she is here to 'give the Anthem back its voice' after announcing Thursday she will perform the 'Star Spangled Banner' at the Super Bowl in her hometown of Atlanta. The longtime civil rights activist faced heat for accepting the gig after many performers and fans are opting to boycott the NFL due to their treatment of Colin Kaepernick.
Following the news that Atlanta-native soul singer Gladys Knight will perform the National Anthem at this year’s Super Bowl, the star is speaking out about Colin Kaepernick, kneeling and the slew of controversy that surrounded the NFL in recent years.
Knight provided a lengthy statement to Variety in which she explained her decision, as a performer and civil rights activist, to sing the National Anthem after several artists turned down appearing alongside Halftime Show act Maroon 5 following backlash from the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick and other controversial issues.
As previously reported, the former 49ers quarterback was essentially banished from the NFL after taking a knee during the National Anthem in an effort to protest police violence in black communities.
“I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice,” she wrote in part. “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.”
The San Francisco 49ers former quarterback weighed in on the Super Bowl Halftime Show controversy. (AP)
The star concluded her message to Variety by saying that she hopes the confusion of the two messages can blend into one lesson of unity for America, which she hopes to use her time singing the Anthem at the Super Bowl to kickstart.
Representatives for Knight did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Kaepernick has had a small voice in the ongoing Super Bowl debate, even from outside the NFL. It was previously revealed that he spoke with rapper Travis Scott before he agreed to perform alongside Maroon 5 at the Atlanta game.
Scott, 26, reportedly consulted Kaepernick before confirming the appearance. The two didn’t agree on Scott performing but came away with a mutual understanding over why he would be performing.
Meanwhile, a petition on Change.org calling for both Maroon 5 and Scott to withdraw from the show has amassed more than 85,000 signatures.