Andra Day says she hasn’t performed the national anthem in a while because she was waiting to sing the black national anthem first.
“I’ll tell you, in all honesty, I haven’t sung an anthem in a while because what I kept saying is I don’t want to do it again until I’m able to sing ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing.'” she said The Hollywood Reporter Sunday after performing the famous anthem during Sunday’s Super Bowl.
“First time I heard they did this, even though it wasn’t televised with Alicia [Keys], I was delighted. And then seeing Sheryl Lee Ralph do it, it was incredible. To even be able to stand in the footsteps of these women, or in their shoes, is truly an honor,” Day continues. “And what I loved about that song was my mom looked at the lyrics and she said, ‘That’s an anthem.’ And that’s what people forget. You know, because people are up in arms about it. But I don’t think it will always be like this.
The Grammy-winning singer and Oscar-nominated actress added that it was “a true honor to represent our ancestors, the people who came before us, the people who truly sacrificed.”
“But it was also amazing to stand in the present and say, ‘This song is for everyone.’ We should see this as a beacon, as a beacon of hope for the future,” she said.
Day, who is known for her strong vocal skills, says she hired vocal coach Rob Stevenson — who has worked with Justin Timberlake and Rihanna — to prepare for the show.
“I haven’t toured in a while, I haven’t really been singing consistently. And then the films I did really changed my voice, so it was a battle of confidence. It’s been a battle of abilities, you know? So I really wanted to make sure I included help,” she admitted. “I was just telling my team, ‘I need help. I’m really nervous. I want to do well. And so that was it. My team somehow helped me pull myself together, practice, take care of my voice. And just talking about everything, praying through everything, that was a big part of it.
Although Day’s performance was praised, she said afterward that she still felt nervous: “It’s kind of crazy just to say it’s over.” I mean, I’ve been so nervous and excited to be there at the same time since November when we found out. So it’s funny, I always feel nervous about something that happened. But I also feel elated. I feel grateful, and honestly, I’m just in this place of gratitude, to God, to every member of my team, to everyone here. It was as if on the ground, people were choosing joy today. And it’s a very beautiful thing.
Day won the Grammy Award for Best Compilation Soundtrack for Visual Media for The United States vs. Billie Holiday, and her captivating portrayal of Holiday in the film earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. When asked which event was the most intense among the awards shows and the Super Bowl, she replied, “Oh, you know what, the Super Bowl might be the craziest.” No crowd is like the crowd at the Super Bowl. My God. It’s overwhelming, but in a good way. Everyone is so happy.