Music

Charley Pride's List of Firsts Includes First Country Star to Perform at the Super Bowl

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When Eric Church joins Jazmine Sullivan to sing the national anthem before the kickoff of Super Bowl LV (held Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa), it will continue a very long tradition of country artists appearing during the big game.

In fact, the Super Bowl became one of several new grounds broken by Charley Pride when the country music legend belted out "the Star-Spangled Banner" at Super Bowl VIII in 1974.

Pride performed during the CBS broadcast from Houston's Rice Stadium, which culminated with the Miami Dolphins defeating the Minnesota Vikings to win a second straight NFL championship. Up to that point, marching bands and trumpet players typically performed the national anthem, with popular vocalists becoming a more common occurrence by the '80s.

Though mainstream acts like Vicki Carr (she sang "America the Beautiful," not the national anthem) soon became fixtures of Super Bowl pregame broadcasts, Pride was the only country singer to do the honors until Garth Brooks got the call in 1993.

A year after Brooks sang the national anthem (and Michael Jackson made the halftime show must-see TV), The Judds, Clint Black, Travis Tritt and Tanya Tucker brought the Rockin' Country Sunday halftime show to Super Bowl XXVIII. They weren't the first country acts to play the halftime show: fiddler Doug Kershaw became that trivia question's answer in 1990.

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Country superstars appearing at the Super Bowl has become more common in the 21st century. Faith Hill's national anthem performance at Super Bowl XXXIV in 2000 was followed by Shania Twain's 2003 halftime show appearance and national anthem gigs for Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, The Chicks, Luke Bryan and the duo of Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton.

When asked about his halftime show experience by Wide Open Country, Black questioned why more Nashville stars do not appear during the year's most-watched sporting event.

"It's one of those great, exciting, fun moments," Black recalls. "It didn't seem out of place to me. It seemed like country music belonged there. I'd say in general that they don't have enough country music. They have a lot of rock and pop, but not nearly enough country music to reflect the sports fanbase."

Pride's many accolades include a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame and 36 No. 1 songs on the country charts, including "Kiss an Angel Good Mornin'."

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Charley Pride's List of Firsts Includes First Country Star to Perform at the Super Bowl