Gladys Knight to sing national anthem at 2021 NBA All-Star game

The festivities will also pay tribute to HBCUs, with performances by marching bands and step teams

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Music legend Gladys Knight has been tapped to sing the national anthem at the 2021 NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta next month. 

The festivities will also pay tribute to HBCUs [historically black colleges and universities], with performances by HBCU marching bands, step teams, glee clubs and choirs, per Variety. The Clark Atlanta University Philharmonic Society Choir will serve up a virtual performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which the NBA says “will honor NAACP leader and Black national anthem songwriter James Weldon Johnson, who is also a Clark Atlanta alumnus.”

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The Grambling State University Tiger Marching Band and Florida A&M University Marching 100 will perform remotely during NBA All-Star player introductions.

Super Bowl LIII Pregame

Knight is an Atlanta native and graduate of Shaw University, one of the nation’s oldest HBCUs. She will sing the U.S. national anthem live from State Farm Arena on March 7, while Alessia Cara will follow up with a performance of the Canadian national anthem from a remote location in Toronto. Viewers will also be treated to a fabulous step show!

“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,” the NBA said in a statement.

Performances will begin at 8 p.m. on March 7, prior to tipoff on TNT.

theGRIO previously reported that the NBA confirmed to clubs in a memo that the All-Star game and skills competitions will be held next month. It remains unclear when players would have to report to Atlanta and how testing will work there, or if fans will be part of the game.

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The first-half schedule ends March 4, with the second half set to begin on March 11. The league said it expects to agree to terms with the National Basketball Players Association on testing protocols that will apply to all players during the break, how testing will work for the All-Star event, and when players will have to report back to their home markets to begin preparations for the second-half schedule.

Sacramento guard De’Aaron Fox said the notion of an All-Star Game was “stupid” during a pandemic.

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