Luke Bryan kicked off Super Bowl 51 with a soulful, swoon-worthy rendition of the national anthem

By Rose Minutaglio
February 05, 2017 06:34 PM
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports/SipaUSA

Luke Bryan kicked off Super Bowl LI with a soulful rendition of the national anthem in his signature country twang.

The Georgia native wore jeans, a maroon shirt and a black jacket. U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds flew overhead and a camera panned over Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who sang along.

Last month, the “Fast” singer told PEOPLE he had zero hesitation about agreeing to the high-profile gig.

“I said, ‘Hell yes, I’ll do it!’ ”

His rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” follows Lady Gaga‘s well-received performance of the national anthem last year. She returns this year as the halftime show performer.

The patriotic song has memorably been performed by artists including Whitney Houston, Carrie Underwood, Beyoncé and Mariah Carey in years past. He’s reportedly the first male singer to perform the national anthem at the Super Bowl in a decade.

“Is the anthem challenging? Yes. Is it nerve-wracking? Yes,” Bryan, 40, previously told PEOPLE. “But I moved to Nashville to follow my dreams and singing the national anthem on that stage doesn’t get any bigger.”

And, he’s right: Millions worldwide are tuning in to see the New England Patriots face off against the Atlanta Falcons at Houston’s NRG stadium.

RELATED VIDEO: Luke Bryan On Why He’ll Be Thinking About The Troops During Super Bowl National Anthem

At a Super Bowl press conference on Thursday, the country crooner said he chose to sing the anthem as a salute to the troops.

“It’s a very important moment for me to think of the military while I’m singing,” he said. “It’s a way for me to thank all of America for making our country what it is. It’s kind of a little way for me serve my country by using my voice and uplift and bring smiles.”