Music legend Gladys Knight had no second thoughts about singing the national anthem at the Super Bowl, despite Don Lemon’s attempt to shame her for doing so.
The legendary soul singer defended her decision to perform “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta on Sunday, pushing back at Lemon’s suggestion that the move could hurt her career.
The host of “CNN Tonight” noted that several other artists had declined invitations to perform at this year’s Super Bowl as he played a clip of the attorney for former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, Mark Geragos, who accused artists of “crossing an intellectual picket line” by performing at the game because they care more about their careers.
“People are going to have their opinions, you know, about whatever,” Knight said in response.
“All I can deal with right now is what my heart says, OK? I believe in fairness. I believe in truth,” the 74-year-old singer continued. “I believe in all of those things, and as far as this is concerned, I grew up with the national anthem. We used to sing it in school before school started. We used to say prayers in school before school started.”
Knight lamented that “we just don’t have that anymore.”
“And I’m just — I’m just hoping that it will be about our country and how we treat each other and being the great country that we are,” the longtime civil rights advocate added.
— Gladys Knight (@MsGladysKnight) February 4, 2019
Apparently not satisfied with her response, Lemon pressed the issue, citing a New York Times story about a singer who “basically lost her career” after singing at President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
“You have a much longer history and resume, right? And a legend in this business. Is that a concern for you at all given the controversy surrounding this,” Lemon asked.
“You know what? Nothing good comes easy,” the seven-time Grammy Award winner shot back.
“And I would hope that they will understand, as I do, that we have a better way to do this than to be angry and why is he doing this or why ain’t she doing that, you know?” she added. “For me, it’s just for me about respect. If we start denying the anthem, there are so many people that have died for our country and there are so many people in my family that are still part of, you know, just standing for the country, they are in the services and that kind of thing and just to not say that if you really listen to the lyrics of the beginning, you’ll understand that. We have fought hard for a long time and not just in wars.”
The “Empress of soul” and Atlanta native had defended her decision previously in a statement, saying she wanted to “give the anthem back its voice.”
“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,” the singer with a five-decade-long career said. “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.”
Sunday’s game between the winning New England Patriots over the Los Angeles Rams was mired in political controversy as supporters of Kaepernick’s social justice protests of kneeling during the national anthem slammed artists like Maroon 5 who accepted the invitation to perform at the halftime show.
“You do have to stand up for what is right and what is right for others,” Knight said. “I just want them to know that we have a country that’s worth standing up for.”
In the end, Knight delivered an inspiring rendition of the national anthem that was praised by many.
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