Rihanna is slated to lead the halftime festivities and Chris Stapleton is poised to set off the action with a rousing rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” But that’s not the only song being performed before kickoff.
The NFL will once again include “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, commonly known as the “Black National Anthem”, before Sunday’s clash. The person poised to perform the James Weldon Johnson classic is a big name in her own right.MORE: Watch Super Bowl 57 live with fuboTV (free trial)
With that, here’s what you need to know about Sheryl Lee Ralph, the television darling set to get the crowd rocking with her performance before Sunday’s game.
Who is Sheryl Lee Ralph?A fixture in television and media for nearly 50 years, Sheryl Lee Ralph has put together quite the resume since making her screen debut in 1977. The 66-year-old has garnered worldwide acclaim for her performance as Barbara Howard on “Abbott Elementary” (a show written by noted Eagles fan Quinta Brunson). But Ralph’s career has been a triumph in the face of hardship, with the Rutgers alum cementing her place in the annals of Black Hollywood over the years.
Ralph began her career in 1977, starring alongside Oscar winner Sidney Poitier in crime comedy film “A Piece of the Action”. She didn’t look out of place next to her esteemed colleague, parlaying her success into guest roles on “Good Times”, “The Jeffersons” and “Wonder Woman”. Her next big break came in 1981, when she featured as Deena Jones on Broadway musical “Dreamgirls”. Ralph earned a Tony nomination for her exploits in the play.
Ralph would continue to find steady work throughout the 1980s and 1990s, starring alongside titans in the acting industry like Denzel Washington (“The Mighty Quinn”), Danny Glover (“To Sleep with Anger”), Robert De Niro (“Mistress”) and Eddie Murphy (“The Distinguished Gentleman”). She also nabbed praise for his performance as Dee Mitchell on iconic television show “Moesha”, reeling in five NAACP Image Award nominations.
She continued to find work in the 2000s and 2010s, dovetailing between the big screen, small screen and the stage. Ralph thrust herself back into the national consciousness with her showing as Howard on “Abbott Elementary”, becoming just the second Black actress (after Jackee Henry) to be awarded a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Last October, she received perhaps her highest honor, netting the Order of Jamaica, the country of her mother’s origin.
Now she’ll perform on the most visible stage, before a worldwide television audience.
123 years ago today Lift Every Voice and Sing was performed publicly for the 1st time. Today I will sing it for the 1st time as part of the @SuperBowl pre game show in the stadium! pic.twitter.com/Mh805zQbX5
— sheryl lee ralph (@thesherylralph) February 12, 2023
MORE: Who else might join Rihanna on stage during Super Bowl 57?
Sheryl Lee Ralph net worth
Per Celebrity Net Worth, Ralph is valued at $5 million, much of which stems from her acting performances.
‘Lift Every Voice and Sing’ lyrics
Lift every voice and sing
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us, Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us, Facing the rising sun of our new day begun
Let us march on till victory is won.
Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chastening rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears have been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered, Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.
God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, Our God, where we met Thee; Lest, our hearts drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee; Shadowed beneath Thy hand,
May we forever stand.
True to our GOD,
True to our native land