Friday, February 23, 2024

Andra Day Says She Stopped Singing the National Anthem Because She Wanted to Sing the Black National Anthem First

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Andra Day says she hasn’t performed the National Anthem for some time because she was waiting to sing the Black National Anthem first.

“I will tell you, truthfully, I have not done an anthem in a while because the thing I kept saying is that, ‘I do not want to do it again until I’m able to sing ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’” she told The Hollywood Reporter on Sunday after performing the famed hymn at Sunday’s Super Bowl.

“The first time I heard that they did this, even though it was untelevised with Alicia [Keys], I was elated. And then seeing Sheryl Lee Ralph do it — it was incredible. To be able to even stand in those women’s footsteps, or in their shoes, is truly an honor,” Day continues. “And what I loved about this song, my mom was looking at the lyrics and she says, ‘This is a hymn.’ And that’s what people forget. You know, because people do get up in arms sadly about it. But I don’t think it will always be that way.”

The Grammy-winning singer and Oscar-nominated actress added that it was an “honor, truly, to represent our ancestors, the people who came before us, the people who truly sacrificed.

“But it was also amazing to stand in the present and to say, ‘This song is for everybody.’ We should see this as a lighthouse, as a beacon of hope unto the future,” she said.

Day, who is known for her strong vocal chops, says she hired vocal coach Rob Stevenson — who has worked with Justin Timberlake and Rihanna — to prepare for the performance.

“I haven’t toured in a while, I haven’t really been singing consistently. And then the movies that I did really changed my voice, so it’s been a battle of confidence. It’s been a battle of, like, ability, you know? So I really wanted to make sure I included help,” she admitted “I was just telling my team, ‘I need help. I’m really nervous. I wanna do well.’ And so that was it. My team just kind of helped me get it together, practicing, taking care of my voice. And just talking through everything, praying through everything, that was a huge part of it.”

Though Day’s performance was praised, she said after it she still felt nervous: “It’s kind of crazy even just saying it’s over. I mean, I’ve been so nervous and looking forward to it at the same time since November when we got the news. So it’s funny, I still feel nervous about something that happened. But I also feel elated. I feel grateful, and honestly I’m just in this place of gratitude, to God, to every member of my team, to everyone here. It felt like on the field people today choose joy. And that’s a really beautiful thing.”

Day won the best compilation soundtrack for visual media Grammy Award for The United States vs. Billie Holiday, and her riveting portrayal of Holiday in the film earned her a best actress Oscar nomination. When asked which event was the most intense of the awards shows and the Super Bowl, she says: “Oh, you know what, the Super Bowl might be the craziest. No audience like the Super Bowl audience. My god. It’s overwhelming, but in a good way. Everyone’s so happy.”

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