Sheryl Lee Ralph performed the Black National Anthem for first time at the Super Bowl

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I love how obsessed we are, as a society, with Sheryl Lee Ralph. She’s been around forever, but Abbott Elementary has suddenly made her a household name in her 60s. What’s great is that she’s being invited everywhere and she’s saying yes to all of those invitations. For the first time ever, the NFL wanted the Black National Anthem performed at the Super Bowl, and they invited Ralph to sing it. “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is a 123-year-old song beloved by the Black community, and Ralph did a beautiful rendition of it. Of course, people are complaining that this song made the Super Bowl “woke.” Imagine being that stupid and racist.

There were people complaining that Sheryl lip-synced? To which I say… at this point, everyone’s lip-syncing. Rihanna lip-synced too, call the cops. When approached for comment about the alleged lip-syncing, Sheryl Lee told THR: “Does it matter? Does it matter? No. Thank you.”

I missed this last night, but Babyface was invited to sing “America the Beautiful” – a nice rendition, I think.

Here’s Chris Stapleton’s performance of the National Anthem. I thought it was good/fine, honestly. I prefer female singers doing the anthem, but Stapleton’s countrified version was acceptable, and clearly a lot of the football dudes loved it. Loved that Oscar-winner Troy Kotsur was invited to sign the anthem too!!

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32 Responses to “Sheryl Lee Ralph performed the Black National Anthem for first time at the Super Bowl”

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  1. Ange says:

    I never knew there was such a song, it’s lovely.

    • CourtneyB says:

      It was sung (by Vanessa Williams?) at the evening Concert for America on Biden’s Inauguration Day. Conservatives flipped out then too.

      Rep Jim Clyburn introduced a bill in 2021 to make it the National Hymn.

      And America the Beautiful is basically sung as an alternate national anthem to begin with. Lots of people prefer it as less bombastic. So people can just sit down.

  2. Mcmmom says:

    We sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in my church. These haters need to get over themselves.

    • Betsy says:

      They won’t. But more people who don’t know things learn things every day and teach our children what we’ve learned. I have unearned faith that things will improve, but I guess that’s faith in a nutshell – trust in something without proof.

  3. Beenie says:

    Ah!! A song that doesn’t conform to my specific personal experience as a white!!! Shut. It. Down!

  4. Becks1 says:

    They sing that song a lot now before NFL games – maybe before every game, I’m not 100%. It’s not always televised but sometimes it is. So anyone who is throwing a hissy fit about it just hasnt been paying attention (among other things.)

    I thought her version was very good and I liked that better than Stapleton’s National Anthem.

  5. Nanea says:

    The haters would do well to give singing a try.

    It lifts the spirit immensely, and it might even dissipate the dark clouds on their minds.

  6. Brassy Rebel says:

    My apologies to Rihanna fans, but this was the best musical performance of the night. Lift Every Voice is such a beautiful song I wish it was the national anthem for the whole nation. And lip synced or not (you try singing in such difficult conditions!), she sang it beautifully. 😭

    • pottymouth pup says:

      Lift Every Voice is an absolutely beautiful and moving song. My only problem with having it replace the national anthem is the fact that it is very clearly a hymn with multiple references to “our god” (frankly, you’d think the right would get behind it because of multiple times the words “our god” appears in the lyrics)

  7. sunny says:

    I thought it was a gorgeous rendition of the song. It felt especially lovely because last night’s Superbowl had two Black starting QB’s which was a first. Plus, for the first time(again I think), the league had three former Black players appear to do the Superbowl trophy hand off(include Doug Williams the first Bladk QB to win a Superbowl in the modern era).

    I thought it was nice but given how the league still treats Kap and the fact that that old historical picture of Jerry Jones as part of the angry white crowd in front of a school desegregating in 1957 came to light this season(Cowboys owner), it felt like the NFL was trying to do a lot. I will forever side-eye the league though.

  8. Jais says:

    Loved the way Sheryl performed that song. It was so good. The background singers, the music, her voice. Really liked Chris Stapleton too but I’m a fan of his anyways.

  9. Fineskylark says:

    My high school choir performed O Canada at the SkyDome (where the Blue Jays play) in Toronto in the mid-90s. They had to record a tape. Apparently it’s only the first fifteen rows or something that can actually hear the person singing.

    • tolly says:

      It seems like we all know this but it sooooo predictable who will be asked (Sheryl, Rihanna, Beyonce) and who won’t (Stapleton, all those old white guys who played the Superbowl after Janet Jackson).

    • TeamAwesome says:

      This. I have performed with choirs at multiple MLB stadiums. Each time we pre-recorded and lip synced to ourselves.

  10. Imara219 says:

    I hate that we missed hearing her rendition. I’m going online to pull it up. I love Sheryl Lee Ralph, and I haven’t heard the Black National Anthem in years.

  11. tolly says:

    Did THR ask Stapleton if he was lip-syncing? No? Thank you.

    • CourtneyB says:

      It’s silly because I think they’ve had them sing too recorded tracks for years to avoid some disaster in front of tens of millions. The SB is *not* when you want to mess up the anthem.

  12. Ameerah M says:

    I went to an all Black school growing up. We sang Lift E’vry Voice everyday in lieu of the National Anthem. It’s such a deep intrinsic part of Black culture and Black history. One of my favorite modern covers of it is Beyoncé’s from the Homecoming album that she sang at Coachella.

    • Imara219 says:

      That version was so beautiful. I’ve been reading ABCs of Black History to my son, and it’s frustrating because he isn’t connecting very well to the material; odd because it’s not like my household is not Black AF. I keep trying to impart how this is about our history, heritage, and culture. He perked up when I showed him some Jean-Michel Basquiat paintings, but seeing your comment makes me think about pulling up the Beyonce version of Lift E’vry Voice (it was the topic for A, anthem. Maybe he needs the live experience. I will never forget my first time hearing the song in person.

  13. Michelle says:

    Her performance gave me chills multiple times. She sang it beautifully. My kids kept looking at her like,…We know her…we know her…but from where…? They were blown away that Ms. Barb was singing! (Also, not as important but she looked fab.)

    As a person whose formative years were the 90s, I screamed, “Babyface!” when he came on.

    Agree on Stapleton’s performance. The man’s voice is butter but dang, I love when a person really just goes hard on the anthem. At the same time, if we’re getting rid of the anthem and replacing it with America the Beautiful (or Lift Every Voice?? Though I wouldn’t want to take it from a community that identifies with it more and in a special way), I think it would be a great idea to perform the anthem in a more sedate way and let it just fade out.

  14. Emmy Rae says:


    Also, “Does it matter? Does it matter? No. Thank you.” is perfect. Thank you once again, Sheryl.

  15. Nicegirl says:

    Sheryl 🔥 💕 🖖 🎙️ 🎧 🎶 🎵 🎼
    Amazing 😻

  16. lucy2 says:

    I missed this during the show! I just watched it now, she was great. I also enjoyed the ASL interpreter Justina Miles, she did a wonderful job.
    No one sings purely live only at any of those, including the incredible Whitney Houston.

  17. Saucy&Sassy says:

    Okay, I was watching when they all performed. They were all sooooooo good. There’s not been much mention of Babyface, but he put feeling in that song (which I happen to love). I can’t say enough good things about their performances. Lift Every Voice And Sing should be included with every opening of a game along with the Star Spangled Banner. It’s not that hard to figure out.

  18. QuiteContrary says:

    She performed this spectacularly.

  19. Bad Janet says:

    The Star Spangled Banner melody written by FSK was originally a song about wine, meant to be a British drinking song that sounded in increasingly awful the more drunk you got.

    Therefore, I find all the uppityness around it hilarious.

    America the beautiful is a much better song. I wish that was our anthem.

  20. Denise says:

    I wasn’t blown away by any of these renditions but think all three did really well. As a trio I think they would work well together for all national events. In school we sang, “America the Beautiful” (and “Lift Every Voice and Sing”) more than the “Star Spangled Banner” so I think it wasn’t until the Whitney Houston SB that I really realized that it was THE National Anthem. I was preteen, don’t judge me. LOL.

  21. Bisynaptic says:

    …and, still, they won’t hire Colin Kaepernick.