Sheryl Lee Ralph sang a powerful rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” during the pre-show for the Professional Football Championship Game in Glendale, Arizona, Sunday evening.
The Abbott Elementary star performed the musical tribute to the resilience of Black people in a scarlet jumpsuit designed by Charles Harbison. The Emmy winner’s look, styled by her daughter Ivy Coco Maurice, featured voluminous sleeves, a full train, regal gloves, and brass buttons.
A small choir wearing all white flanked Ralph during her performance. They sang backup as she belted out the lyrics about marching toward victory. Justina Miles, who performed the anthem in American Sign Language, accompanied Ralph on the field.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Ralph, our most recent Of The ESSENCE cover star, is only the third person to perform the Black National Anthem at the big game. She is the first to sing the song inside the stadium and celebrated the moment with a tweet noting that the song is 123 years old.
Gospel duo Mary Mary performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in honor of the championship outside the Sofi stadium in 2022. A recorded version of singer-songwriter Alicia Keys singing the song aired during the broadcast in 2021.
Ralph is not the only professional making history this year. This game marks the first time in professional football that two Black quarterbacks are going head-to-head for the trophy. Click below to watch the performance.