Tony Dungy expressed the feelings of many fans today when he tweeted, "Gladys Knight rocked the National Anthem with style and grace. An awesome way to start the game!"
For Gladys, often praised as the Empress of Soul, her goal was more than just to sing a song. In a recent statement she explained why she was deeply honored to sing the National Anthem for Super Bowl LIII:
"I am here...to give the Anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles 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.
"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 LIII. No matter who chooses to deflect with this narrative and continue to mix these two in the same message, it is not so and cannot be made so by anyone speaking it.
"I pray that this National Anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us."