Sheryl Lee Ralph Performs Soaring Rendition of 'Lift Every Voice and Sing' at 2023 Super Bowl

The Abbott Elementary star (who is married to a Pennsylvania senator) has said she's rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles as they take on the Kansas City Chiefs

US actress/singer Sheryl Lee Ralph performs the US national anthem ahead of Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on February 12, 2023. (Photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP) (Photo by ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)
Sheryl Lee Ralph. Photo: ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty

Sheryl Lee Ralph has taken her talents to Super Bowl LVII!

The Emmy-winning actress and singer, 66, performed the hymn "Lift Every Voice and Sing" ahead of Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.

Before the Chiefs and the Eagles took the field, Ralph gave a soaring rendition of the song to cheers from the crowd. Nearby on the field was Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin and the first responders who saved his life after he suffered cardiac arrest during a game in January.

The song last appeared at the Super Bowl in 2021, when a taped version of Alicia Keys performing it played ahead of the big game.

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 12: Sheryl Lee Ralph performs "Lift Every Voice and Sing" before Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Sheryl Leigh Ralph. Rob Carr/Getty

Ralph joined an impressive list of celebrity performances, including Chris Stapleton doing the national anthem, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds performing "America the Beautiful" and Rihanna's Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show.

"These three songs put together… To me, that shows a major effort by the NFL to be truly inclusive— to say we're going to represent all people on a day, Super Bowl Sunday, 200 million people coming together to sit and experience and hear," Ralph said at a press conference on Thursday. "What a time, what a way to bring us all together."

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The star also told PEOPLE that she met Rihanna ahead of the big day, and the singer encouraged Ralph to show up with a "Fab Fenty face," referring to her Fenty Beauty line.

"You know, they say it takes a thousand times to perfect something. So I'm up to about 799 [times]. I'm going to keep on listening to my song and be ready to sing and make it happen on Sunday. I'm so excited," she said of preparing. "Oh my God, I was so nervous yesterday. I could hardly move. It was like classic nerves. I was like, 'Oh my God, I'm gonna be sick.' And I actually was. I said, 'Oh no. I'm that nervous.' I made myself sick."

Ralph previously expressed her excitement for the gig to Entertainment Tonight, saying she's "ready to deliver."

"You know you have that moment of like, 'What? Me? They want me to sing at the Super Bowl?'" she recalled. "Yes! Yes! Rihanna's there? What? Yes! For me, I've been saying through the whole award season, it's about the nomination, and for me this is a nomination. So to be with those great singers, artists, performers, I'm going to accept what it says about me. Because they would not have chosen me if they did not feel I could deliver."

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 15: Sheryl Lee Ralph attends the 28th Annual Critics Choice Awards at Fairmont Century Plaza on January 15, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Sheryl Lee Ralph. Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic

This year's Super Bowl match-up is personal for Ralph, who will be rooting for the Philadelphia Eagles as they take on the Kansas City Chiefs.

The star is not only married to Pennsylvania Sen. Vincent Hughes, but she also stars on the hit ABC sitcom Abbott Elementary, which is set at a public elementary school in the City of Brotherly Love.

"My husband was out… in the community giving away Eagles gear and shirts. He said, 'We're going to the Super Bowl!' And at the end I was like, 'How did you know?' And he said, 'We're in it to win it!'" Ralph recalled. "Philly is truly represented. Philly is on a wonderful high with Abbott Elementary being based in Philly. They see this as the wonderful last chapter of a new book that's going to be written, or maybe it's the first chapter. Here we go into the third season of Abbott Elementary, 'cause we get to fly Eagles."

When Ralph's Super Bowl performance was announced, she received congratulations from her Abbott co-star Lisa Ann Walter, who plays second-grade teacher Melissa Schemmenti.

Walter wrote on Twitter that Ralph was the "perfect person" to sing "Lift Every Voice," and that she was "so proud."

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