Ainsworth: Thank you so much, Gladys Knight

February 4, 2019

Thank you, beautiful Gladys Knight, for your fine, transcendent performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” during Sunday’s Super Bowl.

I’ve always been a purist when it comes to the National Anthem and am usually disappointed by contemporary singers who try to make it about themselves and their vocal chops by giving a performance that sounds like a bad, over-sung “American Idol” audition. As Simon Cowell might say, “Appalling.”

But your version was in a class by itself. Your rich voice cast a spell with the tune and wrapped itself around the lyrics. You sang with such simplicity, power and sincerity. You’ve obviously given a lot of thought to those words. At a time when some people insist on making EVERYTHING about politics, you rose above that and focused on what the song itself represents.


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I also saw your interview on CNN, in which you spoke not about petty issues or political correctness but of things that are really important: the people who have died for our country, and people even in your own family who have served. “We’ve fought hard for a long time,” you said, “and not just in wars.” You understand that the Anthem is about that struggle as a nation to make it through the night --- every night --- from “twilight’s last gleaming” to “dawn’s early light.” And in singing it the way you did, with such conviction, you succeeded in your goal of “giving the Anthem back its voice.”

You said you weren’t so much political as you are a “heart person,” and that was great to hear, as the heart seems to be mostly absent from the national conversation. Doesn’t it seem to you that the only emotion we see expressed these days is anger? What happened to love, hope, forgiveness, respect? How wonderful it must have been for you to perform for Dr. King, what an honor, because he was all about the heart as well –- the conscience, the character. You obviously had a good, solid grounding in those principles growing up in your family, as you learned to follow your heart and operate out of love and respect. This is what we seem to be missing right now.

It touched me to hear you say that we have a country “worth standing up for.” I agree with you that race relations right now are not good, at least as portrayed in the media. There are some who want to tear down all the progress that has been made over the decades, and I think most of that is to gain political power. (And, yes, I do believe that “taking a knee” during the Anthem was an extremely misguided attempt to make a statement –- whether one agrees with that statement or not –- and that it was exploited by those who think “patriotism” is a bad word and who want to hurt America by dividing us.) But I still believe there are far more Americans who want to be able to put all that negativity aside and think of other people of all races the way Dr. King hoped we would.

So thank you, Ms. Knight, for graciously playing a part in helping us do that. It was a difficult position for you to be in, and it shouldn’t have had to be. We will always remember your beautiful performance.  No one could have done a better job singing about “the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

https://youtu.be/kTuoq6TllaU

 

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Comments 1-16 of 16

  • Vicki L Kuhl

    02/05/2019 01:23 PM

    Thank you and agreed! I only tuned in Sunday night to hear Gladys Knight sing our national anthem. After that I could rest and be assured that our country still had hope and significance. Time to put an end to petty, energy draining hoopla that so many want to stuff inside our beings. Enough trash. More honor.

  • Jackie Montoya

    02/05/2019 10:30 AM

    Thank you Laura. Well said!!

  • Alan P Gross

    02/05/2019 08:44 AM

    And - thank you, Laura, for your beautiful and well-deserved tribute to Gladys Knight for her stellar performance. You both brought tears of hope to my heart-broken-for-America eyes.

  • Nelson D. Reyes

    02/05/2019 05:04 AM

    Gold Standard Gladys Knight. Thank you for your heartfelt rendition of the National Anthem.

  • eddie chicago

    02/04/2019 11:46 PM

    Excellent article, as usual, Ms. A ! Ms. Gladys has always been a "Class Act". She is truly a "National Treasure". Gladys Knight always has great backing musicians in her shows and on her recordings ,as well. I know Gov. Mike would love to play bass behind her on his TBN program. As ever, prayin' and playin' my '76 fretless P bass, e/c.

  • GERMAINE CUNNINGHAM

    02/04/2019 07:59 PM

    I was so gratified to read your comments about Gladys Knight's singing of our National Anthem. I have never heard such a pure, wonderful rendition sung by anyone before!!! Her appearance and singing was the highlight of the whole event. Thank you Ms. Gladys Knight!!!!

  • Bill Sanner

    02/04/2019 07:42 PM

    Laura, you're right to express this thank you note to Gladys Knight. I thought, and I've heard others say that she was the best part of last night's football game. It was lovely to listen to and reminded me of a quieter and simpler time in America. I miss those days.
    B

  • Cynthia Frith

    02/04/2019 07:18 PM

    I can't remember ever hearing our national anthem played and sung in such a warm and meaningful context. It sent tears to me as she explained musically where the country has been and where it needs to go.

  • Ann Zang

    02/04/2019 06:28 PM

    Nailed it. Ms. Knight's moving delivery transcended mere performance. There's Lyle Lovett's anthem for the Rangers in the World Series; Kate Smith's "God Bless America" for the Flyers' Stanley Cup finals. And now, there's Gladys Knight, who wrapped her glorious voice around the meaning of "The Star-Spangled Banner" and met us on the common ground of the heart and hope of America.
    Best moment of any Super Bowl, ever.

  • Veronica Kehoe

    02/04/2019 05:41 PM

    I turned on the TV just as Ms. Knight took the microphone. Her voice, performance was very uplifting.

  • Kay Campbell

    02/04/2019 04:21 PM

    Your article was well written, and Gladys Knight’s performance was the best. God bless you, Gladys. You gave this country what we need to heal and reminded us of why we need to.

  • Gaye Harris

    02/04/2019 11:52 AM

    Thank you for this tribute! Could you forward it on to Gladys and put 'Ditto' on it from me?!!!
    You both are precious ladies!
    Thank you!

  • JC Boatwright

    02/04/2019 11:42 AM

    Thank you Gladys for that superior performance at the Super Bowl this past Sunday. It was solid and unselfish. We could see that the song wasn’t about you, it was about America.

  • Ginger Hite

    02/04/2019 11:29 AM

    Thank you Gladys!!! Beautiful lady, you were exciting. You gave a perfect rendition of The Star Spangled Banner. Your voice and the
    love that your talented voice gave us was outstanding!

  • Harold Dover

    02/04/2019 11:28 AM

    That was beautiful. Done so meaningfully and beauty! Thanks!

  • Kathy Winterburn

    02/04/2019 10:33 AM

    Thank you...very nice article, so well said. Gladys Knight...What a classy lady to speak of past and hope for the future. Good bless America!