Sheryl Lee Ralph’s career has been enjoying quite the resurgence. The 66-year-old beauty has received accolades and awards for her role as kindergarten teacher Barbara Howard on the hit sitcom Abbott Elementary. The recognition for her acting has been beautiful to witness (as well as her motivational acceptance speeches), but lest we forget that she’s a singer, too. Her return to the spotlight has thrust a microphone back in her hand, and yesterday she got to perform on one of the world’s biggest stages: Super Bowl LVII. Sheryl Lee was invited to perform “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” and sing she did.
Before the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs duked it out on the field, Ralph sang the song widely known as the “Black National Anthem” during the pre-game show and gave a show-stopping performance. Sheryl Lee stepped out in a stunning red and black, off-the-shoulder jumpsuit with balloon sleeves and opera gloves and looked every bit of the diva that she is.
Backed by a 12-member choir dressed in winter white pantsuits while a group of Black NFL players stood in the background behind them, she belted out “Lift Every Voice And Sing.” Ralph tapped into her lower register for most of the song and gave a very elegant and expressive performance, also tapping into her theatrical side. The multitalented entertainer brought the drama along with her powerful vocals and made James Weldon Johnson’s hymn come alive.
With Super Bowl LVII happening during Black History Month and being a historic occasion itself with two Black quarterbacks going head-to-head for the first time, Sheryl Lee Ralph’s passionate rendition of “Lift Every Voice And Sing” was befitting of the moment. In case you missed this year’s Super Bowl, watch Sheryl’s performance below and view the full video on YouTube.