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Atlanta native Gladys Knight made no apologies for her decision to sing the National Anthem at the opening of the Super Bowl on Sunday, which critics called "spine-tingling".
The singer, known as the Empress of Soul, followed in the footsteps of artists including Cher, Aretha Franklin, Whitney Houston.
Ahead of her performance, Knight said she was “proud” to be chosen to sing The Star-Spangled Banner despite the decision by other artists not to perform, as a show of solidarity with NFL player Colin Kaepernick.
“I understand that Mr. Kaepernick is protesting two things, and they are police violence and injustice,” she wrote, in a statement to Variety.
“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," said Knight.
A long-time civil rights advocate, the 74-year-old said she wanted "to give the Anthem back its voice".
"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."
It's one of the most watched events on US TV - the halftime show at the Super Bowl.
But this year it was mired in controversy well ahead of the game, with artists such as Cardi B declining to appear citing solidarity with the NFL player Colin Kaepernick, affectively blacklisted from the game since taking a knee in protest during the national anthem.
"I got to sacrifice a lot of money to perform. But there’s a man who sacrificed his job for us, so we got to stand behind him," the rapper said, confirming her decision not to perform at the weekend.
For their part, Maroon 5 dodged any politics and chose to “let the show do the talking”.
But it led to a muted performance, reports BBC Music’s Mark Savage.
Comets, drones, marching bands and Spongebob Squarepants: Maroon 5's Super Bowl half-time show had everything... except an emotional connection.
The LA band delivered an enthusiastic, breathless history of their biggest hits - from This Love to Girls Like You - but unlike the copious pyrotechnics, their set failed to catch fire.
Levine threw himself into the show, dropping to his knees, bashing out guitar solos and running up and down the M-shaped stage - but the band tried to cram in too much material (nine songs in 13 minutes) to create a coherent, enjoyable show.
Maroon 5 closed their set with their biggest hit, Moves Like Jagger, as Levine stripped off his vest top and fireworks shot from the roof of Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz stadium.
They didn't leave the stage defeated - casual fans will have been reminded why they're still around and producing hits after 17 years - but neither will the show be talked about as an all-time classic.