Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan teamed up to perform the national anthem at Super Bowl LV on Sunday, Feb. 7, marking the first time two artists performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" together since Aaron Neville and Aretha Franklin performed at the 2006 Super Bowl in Detroit. Church brought his guitar to the game, accompanying himself and Sullivan for the beginning of the song before another track began to play behind the two singers.
Church was dressed in a purple jacket and black jeans and Sullivan chose a white suit and a crystal headpiece. Purple is traditionally recognized as a symbol of bipartisanship and all-white outfits are often used to pay tribute to the women's suffrage movement, giving Church and Sullivan the opportunity to deliver subtle messages with their clothing choices. Ahead of the performance, the country star shared with Kelleigh Bannen on Today’s Country Radio with Kelleigh Bannen on Apple Music Country that he had not yet met Sullivan but that she "may be the best singer."
"I was floored," he said. "And you know what, the best thing about this, no matter what happens, because that's a nervy thing that we got to do, but what a fan, I'm a fan. I've went in and listened to everything she did. And I had heard her name, but full disclosure, I had not listened." The North Carolina native also opened up about receiving the opportunity to perform at the Super Bowl, admitting that he never thought he would get the call.
"And then Adam Blackstone is a guy who, a great producer, worked with The Roots, works with Justin Timberlake right now. He was the guy that set the track up and said, 'Hey, these are the two guys I want.' And it was really credit to him," Church recalled. "They come in and go, 'I want this guy and I want this girl.' And here's what I said...I've said this forever, 'I will never ever sing the national anthem.’ It's so hard. Except the Super Bowl and I fully assumed. I mean, I'm not Chris Stapleton. I fully assumed they're never going to ask me. So, this is the first.”
He added to the Los Angeles Times that his acceptance of the job was spurred by the riot at the U.S. Capitol in January. "With what’s going on in America, it feels like an important time for a patriotic moment," the 43-year-old explained. "An important time for unity. The fact that I’m a Caucasian country singer and she’s an African American R&B singer — I think the country needs that."