Gladys Knight Speaks on Super Bowl Controversy: 'I Am Here to Give the Anthem Back Its Voice'

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Gladys Knight attends Black Girls Rock! 2016 on April 1, 2016 in New York City. 

Gladys Knight explained her decision to sing the national anthem at the 2019 Super Bowl, in a statement reported by Variety

Many artists including Rihanna and Cardi B have refused to perform at the sporting event to show support for Colin Kaepernick. The NFL quarterback alleges that he been blackballed from playing for his "take a knee" protests during the pre-game national anthem.

When it was announced that Maroon 5 and Travis Scott would be the half-time performers, the two artists received a lot of backlash from people claiming they were selling out. Knight, who was announced this week as this year's Super Bowl National Anthem performer, the issued a statment to defend her decision to perform at the big game, held in her hometown of Atlanta 

"I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice," Knight writes. "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.

“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.

“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. 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.”

Super Bowl 53