Eric Church Said He’d Never Sing the National Anthem: ‘I’m a Stylist, Not a Vocalist’
Eric Church said he'd never sing the National Anthem.
"I've said this forever: 'I will never, ever sing the National Anthem,'" Church tells Apple Music Country's Today’s Country Radio With Kelleigh Bannen. "It's so hard."
Indeed, "The Star-Spangled Banner" is a notoriously difficult song because of its broad range. Add in the pressure of a big-time nationally televised event, and the role of National Anthem singer becomes an even harder gig.
But, when the Super Bowl calls, things change — eventually.
As announced in mid-January, Church will be opening Super Bowl LV with a performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" with Grammy-nominated, BET Award-winning R&B star Jazmine Sullivan. It's an honor Church never expected.
"I fully assumed — I mean, I'm not Chris Stapleton. I fully assumed they're never going to ask me," he admits. "When they asked, I thought, 'S--t,' you know?"
In fact, Church was so thrown off by the invitation that it took him a moment to decide to accept it.
"My first response was, nuh-uh ... I can't," Church recalls. "I'm a stylist, not a vocalist."
Church and Sullivan's performance is being arranged and produced by Adam Blackstone, an Emmy-nominated producer who has worked with the Roots and Justin Timberlake. According to Church, it's Blackstone who picked both him and Sullivan for the gig.
"I heard [his arrangement, and] I thought, 'That's cool; that sounds like me,' and then I heard her, and I'm not missing a chance to sing with her," Church recounts. "And that was it. Once I heard her voice, I said, 'Okay, I'm in.'"
Church and Sullivan join halftime performer the Weeknd and Grammy winner H.E.R., who will sing "America the Beautiful," in the performance lineup for Super Bowl LV. Deaf rapper Warren "WAWA" Snipe will accompany both H.E.R. and Church and Sullivan to perform "America the Beautiful" and "The Star-Spangled Banner" in American Sign Language.
Church — who recently announced his next album, a triple-disc project titled Heart & Soul — is the first country artist since Luke Bryan to perform at the Super Bowl. Bryan sang the National Anthem for the big NFL event in 2017.
Super Bowl LV is set to air live from Tampa, Fla.'s Raymond James Stadium on Sunday (Feb. 7) on CBS. A kickoff show will begin at 6PM ET, with the game itself, between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Kansas City Chiefs, kicking off at 5:30 PM CT.
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