Country artist Eric Church and R&B superstar Jazmine Sullivan joined forces for a powerhouse performance of the national anthem ahead of the Super Bowl in Tampa, Florida, on Sunday.
Before the Kansas City Chiefs faced off against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Church and Sullivan took the field to perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” in a genre-bending rendition that united their signature musical styles.
Sporting a vibrant purple jacket and sunglasses, Church kicked off the song with his guitar in hand, before Sullivan jumped in, stunning in an all-white ensemble and bejeweled head piece.
As Sullivan — a 12-time Grammy nominee who released her fourth album, an EP titled “Heaux Tales,” last month — hit her first of many high notes, fireworks shot above the stadium, while players from both teams looked on.
The NFL confirmed in January that Church, who is planning to launch a three-album project called “Heart & Soul” later this year, and Sullivan were tapped to perform at the big game. Before they took the field, Grammy-winning artist H.E.R. performed “America the Beautiful,” while The Weeknd is set to take over headlining duties for the halftime show.
Ahead of the big game, Sullivan said that she and Church found “beauty in blending different lifestyles and different music (and) different art and making something special.”
“I’m ready to take it and do my thing. I feel like I’m representing my people. I’ma go there and do my thing and be myself and sing the anthem the way I want to, the way I feel it in my spirit,” she told The Associated Press. “I’m looking forward to seeing what happens after that.”
In a separate interview, Church said that he had long avoided performing the national anthem.
“It’s an incredibly hard song to sing. And I’m not a vocalist — I’m a stylist. Somebody like me, you take some liberties with it, then you’ve gotten too far away from the melody and suddenly you’re a communist,” he told The Los Angeles Times days before the big game. “Honestly, there’s just more to lose than to gain.”
But after becoming more familiar with Sullivan as a vocalist, he decided to take the chance, telling Apple Music that, “I heard her and I’m not missing a chance to sing with her. And that was it … Once I heard her voice, I said, ‘OK, I’m in.’”
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