R&B star Jazmine Sullivan and country singer Eric Church, both double-digit Grammy nominees, will join forces to sing the national anthem before the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers face off in Super Bowl LV Sunday. And before being asked to do the duet, one of them said they had never heard the other sing before.
Sullivan rose to the top of the R&B charts in 2008 with her debut single and album. She’s earned 12 Grammy nominations and written songs for Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson and Monica. Her new EP, “Heaux Tales,” debuted last month at No. 4 on the all-genre Billboard 200 albums chart. Billboard describes the songs as "unapologetic in their message and attitude."
Sullivan told Billboard in a January interview about how "Heaux Tales" -- her first project since 2015 -- speaks to both how the music industry and society as a whole deals with systemic bias and female inclusion.
"Feeling undervalued, unappreciated and overlooked, even as we work harder, is always in the back of women’s minds," Sullivan told Billboard. "This project is about taking up this space and doing so in a way that you choose to, not because you’re told how to by men or society. How I present myself is how I choose to, and you’re going to accept it. Women are really standing in their confidence and power now, and I wanted to add to that in this way."
One of the artists she worked with on the project was H.E.R., who will be performing "America The Beautiful" at the Super Bowl.
Church, a 10-time Grammy nominee, released his debut album in 2006 and has topped the country charts with songs like “Drink In My Hand,” “Springsteen,” “Talladega” and “Record Year.” He’s released multiple multiplatinum and platinum albums and was named entertainer of the year at last year’s Country Music Association Awards.
Church is stepping out of his comfort zone for the anthem in more than one way. Variety reports Church said he had never listened to Sullivan's music before being asked to do the duet. But said after listening to her, he was "floored" and that "she may be the best singer."
Church also reportedly told Apple Music Country that he vowed to never perform "The Star-Spangled Banner" because it was vocally challenging. “I’m not Chris Stapleton," Church said.
Emmy-nominated musical director Adam Blackstone will arrange and produce Church and Sullivan’s rendition of the national anthem.
AP Music Writer Mesfin Fekadu contributed to this report.