Super Bowl LV is poised to be a showdown to remember, and if the pre-game performances are anything to go by, the bar has already been set high. Ahead of the big game, the NFL aired a clip of Alicia Keys singing the classic song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which was written over 100 years ago in celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday (via Just Jared).
The virtual performance was originally recorded in September 2020, and pays tribute to the Black community with its anthemic message of liberation, strength, and perseverance. As Billboard reported, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” is widely considered to be the Black national anthem — so there’s something poetic about the fact the NFL chose to bookend the 2020 season with a message of racial solidarity.
In the moving clip, Keys can be seen playing the piano at the 50-yard line, while the camera cuts to show images of NFL players taking part in protests and honoring victims of police brutality. Because Twitter is a place of polarizing opinions, people had plenty of thoughts about Keys’ performance, and many viewers took to the platform to air both praise and criticism. Keep scrolling to read what the internet had to say!
Twitter was split over Alicia Keys' rendition of 'Lift Every Voice and Sing'
With all eyes turned towards Tampa Bay in anticipation of Super Bowl LV, Alicia Keys’ performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” generated plenty of buzz on Twitter. “H.E.R, Jazmine Sullivan, Alicia Keys and Amanda Gorman?? Black girls are WINNING tonight y’all,” wrote a user who appeared to be “keyed” up, not only about the pre-game performance, but also about the quality of Black representation on the field. “Alicia Keys, H.E.R, and Jennifer Hudson b4 the game even started? Star power activated,” someone else tweeted, while another commented that the intro show is “inspiring AF.”
But while some pointed to the fact that the inspirational performances signified a new, potentially better, start to 2021, others were less complimentary. “All BLACK entertainers should have BOYCOTTED,” one person tweeted. “Especially Alicia Keys singing our song … [Colin] Kaepernick was abused.” The comment refers to former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who was fired by the San Francisco 49ers after becoming the first player to kneel for the national anthem in protest of racial injustice. Still, it seems that the NFL has made great strides since it first quashed player demonstrations against police brutality.
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