Sheryl Lee Ralph performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing” at Super Bowl 2023 Sunday (Feb. 12) from State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
She delivered a robust performance with the help of a backup choir and American Sign Language performer Justina Miles, taking everyone in the stadium — and the 100 million estimated television viewers at home — to church instead.
“Let our rejoicing rise/ High as the listening skies,” she bellowed of the uplifting lyrics. While wearing a magnificent off-the-shoulder red and black jumpsuit with matching puffy gloves, the Emmy award-winning Abbott Elementary actress looked like a winner hours before either the Philadelphia Eagles or Kansas City Chiefs would be declared the evening’s victors.
“Lift Every Voice and Sing” is a hymn written by James Weldon Johnson that’s often referred to as the “Black national anthem” because the “lyrics eloquently captured the solemn yet hopeful appeal for the liberty of Black Americans” and was “prominently used as a rallying cry during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s,” according to the NAACP.
Ralph made history on game day by becoming the first Black person to perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing” on the field before the Super Bowl. Two years ago, Alicia Keys became the first person to perform the anthem during the Super Bowl primetime telecast in a pre-recorded video. Last year, Mary Mary did the honors from outside Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium.
Watch Ralph’s performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” above.