NEW YORK, Feb. 23, 2021 - The National Basketball Association (NBA) announced today that seven-time GRAMMY® Award-winner Gladys Knight, who graduated from Shaw University, one of the oldest HBCUs in the nation, will sing the U.S. national anthem at NBA All-Star 2021 live from State Farm Arena in Atlanta. In addition, GRAMMY Award winner and singer-songwriter Alessia Cara will sing the Canadian national anthem from Toronto. The anthems will air on Sunday, March 7 on TNT ahead of the 70th NBA All-Star Game, with AT&T Slam Dunk replacing the traditional halftime show.
Throughout the night, the league will pay tribute to the vital role of HBCUs through music, content and storytelling, including an original rendition of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" by the Clark Atlanta University Philharmonic Society Choir, which will sing from an iconic location on its campus. The rendition will honour NAACP leader and Black national anthem songwriter James Weldon Johnson, who is also a Clark Atlanta alumnus.
Additionally, the nationally-recognized Grambling State University Tiger Marching Band and Florida A&M University Marching 100 will play during NBA All-Star player introductions from their respective historical campuses. 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.
As previously announced, the NBA All-Star Game and skills competitions will take place on the same night for the first time. TNT's coverage will begin at 5 p.m. ET, followed by the Taco Bell® Skills Challenge and MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest starting at 6:30 p.m. ET.
About the Artists
2018's "Best New Artist" Grammy Award Winning Canadian singer/songwriter and Def Jam Recordings artist Alessia Cara emerged onto the music scene in 2015 with her global anthem "Here." On top of her Grammy win, she was also awarded an MTV EMA for Best World Stage Performance following the release of her highly anticipated sophomore album THE PAINS OF GROWING. This Summer EP was released on September 6th. In 2020, Alessia brought a band into the studio to create the EP in a live studio environment. This Summer: Live Off The floor; all six songs re-recorded and reimagined with live instrumentation. Alessia also made her acting debut as the lead role of Jane in Netflix's original animated film "The Willoughbys."
Seven-time Grammy Award-winner Gladys Knight has enjoyed #1 hits in Pop, Gospel, R&B and Adult Contemporary, and has triumphed in film, television and live performance. Knight, who is a two-time Grammy winner in the gospel category, yet again embraced her gospel roots, releasing her inspirational album "Where My Heart Belongs", in September 2014. The album was a major success and won an NAACP Image Award for "Outstanding Gospel Album." Knight has recorded more than 38 albums over the years, including four solo albums during the past decade: "Good Woman" (1991); "Just for You" (1994); the inspirational "Many Different Roads" (1999); and "At Last" (2001). "At Last" showed the world that she still has what it takes to record a hit album, employing the talents of contemporary producers like Randy Jackson, Gary Brown, among many others. Her involvement in other creative undertakings, business ventures and humanitarian activities has been extensive and has brought her honours from industry and community alike.
About the HBCU musical groups
Clark Atlanta University Philharmonic Society Choir
The Clark Atlanta University Philharmonic Society is a nationally respected choral ensemble that perpetuates a proud century-old tradition of artistic clarity, stylistic authority, and brilliant choral tone. The Philharmonic Society includes an international membership of the finest men and women, boasting honour students and student leaders from across the university. The Society performs the gamut of the choral genre, from standard classical literature to popular repertoire and has an affinity for performing works drawn from the vast storehouse of the African American traditions. It has done individual performances in conjunction with such noted figures as Nelson Mandela, Quincy Jones, William Warfield, Roberta Flack, James Moody, Jeffery Osborn, Roy Ayres, and Andrew Young. The CAU Philharmonic has performed for the National Convening Body of the United Methodist Church and was heard in New York City at Carnegie Hall in the world premiere performance of The Nativity, a contemporary work by composer Ernestine Robinson. More recently, over 4 million viewers saw and heard the Society on "Chasing the Dream: Exploring Black History" on a live CNN webcast. Since the early 1990s, the Society has established a stellar reputation under the leadership of its former director, Professor Glynn E. Halsey. It is now poised to build on its rich choral tradition of excellence under the director of its current director, Dr. Curtis Powell.
Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University Marching 100
The Marching "100" was named by band director William P. Foster, Ph.D., following his arrival at FAMU in 1946. Under Dr. Foster's tutelage, the Marching "100" grew from 16 instruments to as many as 420 members. The band has performed at the Grammy's, at the Rose Bowl Parade, three presidential inauguration parades and was the official U.S. representative to the Bicentennial Celebration of the French Revolution in Paris, France. The band is led by Shelby Chipman, Ph.D., a former student of Dr. Foster's.
Grambling State University Tiger Marching Band
Started in 1926 by Grambling College President Ralph Waldo Emerson Jones, the band has performed in more super bowls than any other college or university to date. Known recently for their performance with Beyoncé at Coachella, the more than 250-piece ensemble has travelled internationally, made appearances in advertising campaigns for multiple national brands, and was among the bands shown in Drumline. Frequently labelled, "The Best in the Land," the ensemble prides itself on the tradition of moulding embryo noisemakers into superb musicians and magnificent marchers.