Gladys Knight wowed the Super Bowl LIII crowd with a soulful rendition of the United States National Anthem Sunday night (Feb. 3) in Atlanta.
The 74-year-old seven-time Grammy winner, who was born and raised in Atlanta, wore an all-white dress and silver shoes as she belted the “Star Spangled Banner”
Knight’s performance was a hit on social media, with many on Twitter praising the legendary singer:
Gladys Knight anthem was awesome.
— Myles Simmons (@MylesASimmons) February 3, 2019
Gladys Knight looked great and just straight crushed it.
— Donna Ditota (@DonnaDitota1) February 3, 2019
Gladys Knight did that. Classic. Iconic. Legend
— Clarence Hill Jr (@clarencehilljr) February 3, 2019
— T.J. Holmes (@tjholmes) February 3, 2019
Ahead of her performance, Knight received criticism from fans who felt as though she shouldn’t have taken the gig considering the racially-motivated controversies surrounding the whole Colin Kaepernick kneeling situation.
“I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice,” she wrote in a statement. “It is unfortunate that our National Anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the National Anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.
She continued: “I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 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.”
She concluded her statement with this: “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.”
Gladys Knight joins a notable list of artists who have performed the anthem over the years, including Whitney Houston, Beyoncé, Carrie Underwood, and, more recently, Pin, who performed last year while battling the flu.
Watch the performance up top.