Eric Church says singing national anthem at Super Bowl is 'a 10 degree of difficulty off the high dive'

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Eric Church says singing national anthem at Super Bowl is 'a 10 degree of difficulty off the high dive'

With one exception, Eric Church said he never wanted to perform the national anthem. That exception? The Super Bowl, of course. Church fulfills his

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With one exception, Eric Church said he never wanted to perform the national anthem. 

That exception? The Super Bowl, of course. 

Church fulfills his wish Sunday with an appearance at Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida. He performs with R&B star Jazmine Sullivan ahead of an anticipated match-up between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs. 

“It’s a 10 degree of difficulty off the high dive,” Church told the Tennessean, part of the USA TODAY Network. “It’s tough. But I’m excited to go do it.” 

Adam Blackstone, a musical director known for his work with Justin Timberlake, Rihanna and previous Super Bowl games, connected Church and Sullivan for the performance. They’re the first duet anthem since Aretha Franklin and Aaron Neville in 2006. 

Church’s reaction to hearing his high-flying duet partner the first time?

“Damn,” Church said in admiration. 

Jazmine Sullivan sang.

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The reigning CMA Entertainer of the Year views the anthem as a “risk-reward” moment. Tough to execute, but worthwhile if they deliver a “redeeming performance,” he said. 

“When I heard her, and then I heard the part — I got to play guitar on it — and got to make it a thing,” Church said, “It looked like the right moment from a unity standpoint in what I believe is a country that needs some unifying. It seemed like the right thing to do. 

“Now it’s up to us. It’s all execution.” 

Sullivan rose to the top of the R&B charts in 2008 with her debut single and album. She’s earned 12 Grammy nominations and written songs for Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson and Monica. Her new album, “Heaux Tales,” debuted at No. 4 on the all-genre Billboard 200 albums chart.

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Eric Church performs.

Church — who won CMA Entertainer of the Year, a top honor in country music, last November — appears at the Super Bowl ahead of releasing “Heart & Soul,” a triple-album project due in April. The 24-song release follows his 2018 “Desperate Man” album and arena headlining “Double Down” tour. 

“Blinding Lights” pop star The Weeknd headlines the coveted halftime show; Grammy Award-winning singer H.E.R. performs “America The Beautiful” prior to kickoff. Deaf rapper and recording artist Warren “WAWA” Snipe performs “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “America the Beautiful” in American Sign Language.

Dolly Parton — who reworked enduring hit “9 to 5” for a Squarespace commercial — joins Church in representing Nashville at the Super Bowl. Brandi Carlile, Luke Bryan, Church, Sullivan, Brittany Howard and more will perform at an after party concert hosted by Tiffany Haddish. 

Contributing: Associated Press. 

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