Music legend Gladys Knight has signed on to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at next month’s Super Bowl in Atlanta.
“Atlanta, I’m coming home! #NFL #SBLIII,” Knight tweeted Thursday morning, along with a promotional poster for the February 3rd event. The NFL also announced Knight would help kick off the game.
Maroon 5 was confirmed last weekend as the headliner for the professional football game’s halftime show. Travis Scott and Big Boi are expected to be guest performers.
Following the announcement, Knight has shared a statement in response to Variety’s “question about her stance on the NFL’s treatment of Colin Kaepernick,” the former NFL quarterback and political activist who’s been blacklisted from the league due to his peaceful protests against police brutality.
“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.”
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.