Super Bowl LVII is shaping up to be a great concert. On Tuesday, the NFL announced that in addition to Rihanna’s halftime performance, viewers can expect to hear Chris Stapleton singing the national anthem, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds singing “America the Beautiful,” and Sheryl Lee Ralph singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” — the Black national anthem — before the game.
For Ralph fans, the announcement was cause for celebration and the latest moment for the actress and singer to be recognized for her career accomplishments and talents. Despite being a legend to Black audiences for decades for her film and TV roles in Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit, Moesha, and To Sleep With Anger, as well as her Broadway credits, including Dreamgirls and Wicked, Ralph has only recently begun to receive wider acclaim for her work, thanks to her portrayal of Barbara Howard on Abbott Elementary in the past year and a half.
“Someone wake me up from this dream!” Ralph wrote on Twitter about performing at the Super Bowl.
For her role in Abbott Elementary, Ralph won an Emmy and was nominated for a Golden Globe. Her inspiring speeches and red-carpet comments have gone viral. She was nominated for a Tony for her 1981 performance as Deena Jones in Dreamgirls, a role she originated that was later played by Beyoncé in the 2006 movie adaptation. Ralph recently told fellow legend Jackée Harry that her feelings were “hurt” when she and the other originators of Dreamgirls were left out of the re-creation. While we might have been robbed of the chance to see her in that production, we’re glad we can hear her on the field on February 12.