ATLANTA — Soul legend Gladys Knight will perform the national anthem before the NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta on March 7, the league announced on Tuesday, and Clark Atlanta's Philharmonic Society Choir will sing "Lift Every Voice and Sing" as part of the pregame ceremonies.
The iconic singer from Atlanta will be performing yet again in her hometown before a nationally-watched sporting event: In 2019, she sang the anthem before Super Bowl 53 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium.
It will be markedly different from that event, of course. There will be no packed stadium to cheer her on - the audience will be composed of a small number of healthcare workers and HBCU students are being invited to attend.
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms is also asking revelers to stay away from the city for the weekend in hopes of maintaining a subdued impact for the game amid the ongoing pandemic.
But it will nonetheless be a highly visible platform, with the NBA looking to use the game to elevate HBCUs in particular. In singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the Clark Atlanta Philharmonic will be honoring one of their own - James Weldon Johnson, who wrote the song considered the Black national anthem.
The NBA said the Clark Atlanta Philharmonic would be singing from "an iconic location on its campus."
The marching bands from Grambling State University and Florida A&M University will play from their campuses during the player introductions, as well.
"Throughout the game, members of the Divine Nine fraternities and sororities, a prestigious group of nine historically Black Greek letter organizations, will introduce Atlanta’s most reputable step teams from Spelman College and Morehouse College," a release added.
GRAMMY winner Alessia Cara will sing the Canadian national anthem from Toronto.
The NBA All-Star Game will air on TNT on March 7 beginning at 5 p.m.