The musical component of Super Bowl LVII, began after Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was honored with the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award for his community service. The stage was set for the Emmy Award-winning actress, who was bedecked in a striking floor-length red gown/pantsuit as she began to sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” the hymn written first by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson in 1900. The song is now regarded as the Black National Anthem and has been a key tune of the civil rights movement in the nation.
Ralph highlighted the significance of her performing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in a tweet hours earlier. “It is no coincidence that I will be singing the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing at the Super Bowl on the same date it was first publicly performed 123 years ago,” she wrote, with a video showing her entering the arena sporting a Savage X Fenty hat as an ode to Rihanna, who was the Apple Music Halftime Show performer.
The former Broadway star showed off her chops, singing the opening lines in a rich and somber cadence. As she continued, the chorus from the background singers all dressed in white added to her stately vocals, which closed in a triumphant tone with the final lines of the song. “Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,” she sang. “Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us. Let us march on till victory is won.”
Her performance marks another high note in her career to date. Ralph recently won an Emmy Award for her role as sage teacher Barbara Howard in the hit ABC comedy series Abbott Elementary. She also recently released a Christmas album entitled Sleigh last year. Ralph’s husband, Pennsylvania Senator Vincent Hughes, expressed his praise in a tweet after the game ended with the Kansas City Chiefs beating the Philadelphia Eagles.
“The @eagles may have come up short in a valiant effort tonight but @thesherylralph certainly was a winner at the @AZSuperBowl,” he wrote. She responded, “Thank you baby!” and shared it with her followers.