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Gladys Knight vs. Colin Kaepernick: ‘I Have Been in the Forefront of This Battle Longer Than Most of Those Voicing Their Opinions’

01/19/2019 12:00 AM EST by WBLS Staff

Photo Credit: Jeff Kravitz/AMA2018/Getty Images

Many were surprised to hear the NFL announce that seven-time Grammy Award-winning singer Gladys Knight will open Super Bowl LIII by singing a soulful version of the National Anthem yesterday (Jan. 17). As expected, the singer has received some backlash for her decision to accept the league’s offer, but today she’s wholeheartedly defending her game time appearance.

According to TMZ, the legendary singer addressed her pre-game musical ensemble, saying “I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s Anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl LIII.”

Knight continued, “It is unfortunate that our National Anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the National Anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone.”

Though a 74-year-old Knight doesn’t address Colin Kaepernick directly in her opening statements, that didn’t keep her from mentioning him as she went to give her reasoning for keeping social justice and the National Anthem very separate.

“I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice…I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the Anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life.”

Gladys believes it’s time to give the National Anthem back its power and bring the country back “together in a way never before witnessed.”

Kaepernick has yet to comment.