On Sunday, Super Bowl 55 commenced with singer Alicia Keys’ rendition of the presumed black national anthem, also known as “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” Keys also included a poem with her opening.
Keys delivered a virtual performance of the 121-year-old song, which has become popularized as the “black national anthem” after its 1899 introduction in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Originally a poem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” was set to music in 1900.
— Grace Remington (@GraceRemiWTSP) February 7, 2021
In addition, Keys also sang “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” to initiate the off season as well.
The Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers hit the field during Keys’ virtual performance, displayed on the jumbotron, though both teams returned to their respective locker rooms immediately afterwards.
The NFL elected the “black national income” for both the Super Bowl and Opening Day for the 2020 season to participate in a national reckoning over racial relations in the aftermath of George Floyd’s passing, who died while in Minneapolis police custody.
While the NFL abstained from posting a video of Keys’ rendition to its official Twitter account, the professional sports league did post its own rendition of the national anthem and “America the Beautiful” to its Twitter news feed.
Interestingly, when singers Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan sang the national anthem, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs remained standing.
— NFL (@NFL) February 7, 2021
In addition, other early segments of the game included Amanda Gorman’s poem, which honored frontline healthcare workers, military veterans, and teachers, as reported by the AP.
According to the AP, Gorman, a Harvard University graduate, “captivated Americans with the recent recitation of her poem on national unity at President Joe Biden’s inauguration.”