Eric Church and R&B singer Jazmine Sullivan took the stage for a unique joint performance of the National Anthem at Super Bowl LV on Sunday (Feb. 7).
Church and Sullivan delivered “The Star-Spangled Banner” to kick things off before the Kansas City Chiefs and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers faced off at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. Dressed in a purple jacket, Church began the song solo, accompanying himself on guitar, before Sullivan — who looked stunning in a white pantsuit and glittering headpiece — took lead for a few lines.
By the end of the song, Church and Sullivan had joined together for a harmony-filled end to the anthem. Additional instrumentation joined Church’s guitar as the song swelled to its finish. Watch their full performance below:
Church admitted in a recent interview that he had shied away from singing the vocally challenging song for years, fearing it might be too daunting a task.
“It’s so hard,” he tells Apple Music Country‘s Today’s Country Radio With Kelleigh Bannen. “My first response was, nuh-uh … I can’t. I’m a stylist, not a vocalist.”
That changed once he heard the arrangement from producer Adam Blackstone, who hand-picked Church and Sullivan for the gig.
“I thought, ‘That’s cool; that sounds like me,’ and then I heard her, and I’m not missing a chance to sing with her,” Church says. “And that was it. Once I heard her voice, I said, ‘Okay, I’m in.'”
The country superstar told the Los Angeles Times he hoped that a joint performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” from two artists of such diverse backgrounds and genres might provide a much-needed “patriotic moment” during a time of social divide. He felt that the riot that took place at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 was a turning point.
“I feel like, in this country, we’ve given up the common ground,” Church observes. “When I’m at a concert, I’m not thinking about how many people there are Republicans or Democrats. But that’s how you win elections — you have to create the division, to rile up a base. And because of COVID, we’ve lost the things that used to unite us: concerts, sporting events, trips to Vegas with the boys.
“I can tell you from the concert standpoint, the longer we go without people being able to put their arms around the person next to them and have a moment of communion, it gets more tenuous and more dangerous,” he adds. “And I think the reality of that is what happened at the Capitol.”
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