Reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year Eric Church and R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan joined forces to perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” ahead of Super Bowl LV at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL on Sunday (Feb. 7).
Church and Sullivan’s National Anthem duet is only the second National Anthem duet in Super Bowl history, following Aretha Franklin and Aaron Neville in 2006.
— NFL (@NFL) February 7, 2021
A few days prior to their buzzed-about performance, Church opened up about the opportunity to perform the National Anthem at the Super Bowl and why his performance with Sullivan was so significant.
“With what’s going on in America, it feels like an important time for a patriotic moment,” Church told the Los Angeles Times. “An important time for unity. The fact that I’m a Caucasian country singer and she’s an African American R&B singer — I think the country needs that.”
The superstar admitted that he had “avoided it forever” because “The Star-Spangled Banner” is “an incredibly hard song to sing.” But after the Capitol riots in January, he felt inclined to show unity in a time of such division.
“But that’s kind of what spoke to me,” he said. “We’re unifying. And it’s a time in our country when we have to do that.”
Church is the first country artist to participate in the Super Bowl since fellow country superstar Luke Bryan sang the National Anthem in 2017.