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Sheryl Lee Ralph and Babyface talk Super Bowl pregame performances, reveal who they’re rooting for


L-R: Sheryl Lee Ralph, Babyface, Chris Stapleton; Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

Babyface will sing “America the Beautiful,” country music superstar Chris Stapleton will sing the national anthem and Sheryl Lee Ralph will perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” sometimes called the Black national anthem, at the Super Bowl this Sunday. At a press conference on Thursday, Ralph, who’s better known these days as an Emmy-winning actress, said she can’t wait to lift her voice and sing.

“When … they said, ‘We just got a call, they would like you to sing at the Super Bowl,’ I said, ‘What? Yes!’ Just like that. ‘Yes!'” Ralph said, adding that she’s thrilled about the opportunity.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I would be singing at the Super Bowl,” the Abbott Elementary star laughed. “What is it, 100 million people in the audience? Yeah, just a little, small thing, y’know?”

Ralph will be the first performer to sing “Lift Every Voice and Sing” inside a stadium during a Super Bowl. Of the significance of the performance, she said, “These three songs put together — ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ ‘America the Beautiful’ and ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing,’ the national Black anthem — to me, that shows a major effort by the NFL to be truly inclusive.”

Babyface said of his invitation, “I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t know it was coming. But God brings things to you.” Having first performed “America the Beautiful” in a high school play, he described it as a “full-circle moment” and joked that “America the Beautiful” is “a lot easier than ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.'” 

As for what team they’re rooting for, Ralph is Eagles all the way, while Babyface said he’s “going with Rihanna.” When Stapleton was asked the question, he complained that Babyface took his answer.

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