Gladys Knight Defends Her Decision to Sing National Anthem at Super Bowl 2019

Empress of Soul also addresses NFL player Colin Kaepernick in her explanation

By Mike Vulpo Jan 18, 2019 8:38 PMTags

Gladys Knight is speaking out ahead of her special performance.

Just days after the National Football League announced that the "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" singer will be singing the National Anthem at Super Bowl 2019, the Grammy winner decided to defend her decision to participate in the festivities.

"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," Gladys shared in a statement to E! News. "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 74-year-old added, "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."

Musicians Performing Live on Stage

Previously, E! News learned that Maroon 5, Travis Scott and Big Boi would take the stage during the Halftime show. Commercials are expected to be released and teased as early as next week.

Kevin Winter/Getty Images For dcp

As for why Colin is being brought into the conversation, the football pro chose to kneel during the playing of the National Anthem. A debate would follow about how the NFL treats players who choose to follow similar forms of protest.

Ultimately, Gladys wants her performance to unite the country when she takes the field inside Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

"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," Gladys continued in her statement.

Pop culture and sports fans alike can watch the Super Bowl February 3 on CBS at 6: 30 p.m. ET.

Latest News