Gladys Knight Responds to Backlash for Singing National Anthem at 2019 Super Bowl

Asking "Where is the solidarity?," one fan of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick-turned-civil rights influencer blasted legendary singer Gladys Knight for planning to sing the national anthem before the 2019 Super Bowl.

The NFL announced Thursday that Knight is scheduled to sing the national anthem before in pre-kickoff festivities at the 53rd Super Bowl, on February 3 at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, her hometown.

For her part, Knight tweeted joyfully a day earlier than the fan post: "Atlanta, I'm coming home!" CNN reported the dustup.

Traditionally, high-powered superstars secure the honor of singing "The Star-Spangled Banner." Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston, Diana Ross, Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Lada Gaga and Neil Diamond did so in years past.

One fan, posting with a @bajankarma handle, tweeted Friday that "Kaepernick lost his NFL career fighting for black social justice, where is the solidarity? So if this is true Ms. Gladys Knight has just been added to the long list of other muted artists."

By "muted artists," @banjankarma may have meant other musical artists who have taken plenty of heat in recent weeks for agreeing to play the Super Bowl halftime show, one of the highest rated television events of the year.

Knight, 74, who led the chart-topping soul group Gladys Knight & the Pips from 1961 to 1989, didn't back down to the criticism. She defended her stance in a statement to Variety, also reported on Thursday:

"I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice," she wrote. "It is unfortunate that our national anthem has been dragged into this debate when the distinctive senses of the national anthem and fighting for justice should each stand alone."

Rather than taking the fray bait, Knight appeared took the high road in response to her detractors.

"I am here today and on Sunday, (February 3), to give the anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good – I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country's anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl LIII."

Furthermore, she added, deferring to perhaps a teachable moment for those with knee-jerk reactions to the announcement:

"No matter who chooses to deflect with this narrative and continue to mix these two in the same message, it is not so and cannot be made so by anyone speaking it. I pray that this national anthem will bring us all together in a way never before witnessed and we can move forward and untangle these truths which mean so much to all of us."

Her defenders included one fan, who tweeted, "How are people canceling Gladys Knight for performing at the Super Bowl this year but they still plan on WATCHING the Super Bowl this year? How does that work."

Another Knight fan posted: "Now the NFL/Super Bowl got it right with Gladys Knight singing the National Anthem. Can't wait for that one."

Scheduled acts Maroon 5, rapper Travis Scott and Big Boi also took heat for choosing to perform at halftime.

Gladys Knight Responds to Backlash for Singing National Anthem at 2019 Super Bowl | U.S.