Despite controversies about halftime, a few minutes before kickoff, Atlanta was well-represented with double dose of soul.
Sisters Chloe x Halle presented a soaring version of “America the Beautiful,” trading off vocals and reaching seemingly effortlessly for big notes.
The girls, who opened for Beyonce and Jay-Z on their “On the Run II” tour last year, wore similar shimmery black pantsuits and clasped hands at the end of their performance.
Backstage, they smiled and quietly offered thanks to an avalanche of compliments.
Gladys Knight arrived about 20 minutes before her anticipated rendition of the national anthem in a golf cart, taking the hand of an escort as she walked toward the field.
Her hometown status was recognized before she began, as the announcer told the crowd to “please welcome home” the eight-time Grammy winner.
Giving a slight bow that showcased the flowing split sleeves of her stunning white dress, Knight, 74, unleashed her smoky voice with emotion and grace.
This is a woman who knows how to deliver for effect, and her well-timed pauses with the lyrics of “The Star-Spangled Banner” led to some betting controversy (the line was set at a minute and 50 seconds; she ended at 2:01, which included a stretched out finish, so some sports books will pay both the over and under).
Knight beamed her signature smile throughout and as she exited the field, she hopped excitedly as fans cheered and waved to her from the stands. Before sliding back into her golf cart, she giddily described her performance as “an amazing experience.”
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