Sheryl Lee Ralph deflects speculation that she lip-synced at the Super Bowl

A woman in red sings on a white platform on a football field while backup singers stand behind her
Sheryl Lee Ralph performs “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before the NFL Super Bowl LVII game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

Lift every voice and lip-sync? Sheryl Lee Ralph did one — or both — at Sunday’s Super Bowl.

The Emmy Award-winning “Abbott Elementary” star promptly waved aside speculation that she lip-synced during her live pre-game performance at Super Bowl LVII. Ralph belted the hymn “Lift Every Voice and Sing” before Chris Stapleton sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and, in the tradition of such widely viewed live performances, became the subject of criticism when her voice didn’t seem to align with the movement of her lips.

When asked about it by the Hollywood Reporter, Ralph firmly deflected: “Does it matter? Does it matter? No. Thank you.”


The Tony-nominated “Dreamgirls” star otherwise basked in the kismet of the day, which came before the matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

“It is no coincidence that I will be singing the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing at the Super Bowl on the same date it was first publicly performed 123 years ago (February 12, 1900). Happy Black History Month!” the 66-year-old wrote on Instagram before her performance.

“I thought what a wonderful honor it is for me to be here singing this song inside the arena with the NFL, making a huge gesture for diversity, inclusion, and the end of so many of these isms that people want to keep alive to divide us,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “They wanted to create a moment that brought us all together and I believe that’s exactly what they did. And I was so thankful for them to think of me and include me for that honor.”

Although the Chiefs ultimately won the big game 38-35, the “Moesha” veteran was apparently rooting for “Abbott’s” hometown team.

“‘Abbott Elementary’ takes place in Philadelphia. My husband [state Sen. Vincent J. Hughes, a Democrat] is a senator in Philadelphia. And this year the Eagles [went] to the Super Bowl — I had already been chosen to sing,” she told THR.


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Ralph was cheered on by her “Abbott” co-star and creator Quinta Brunson, who was in the stadium to support her, as well as co-star Lisa Ann Walter, whose character in the ABC sitcom is a huge Eagles fan.

“Booth crashing to watch Sheryl,” Walter said on Instagram Stories, sharing a pic of her and Brunson in their VIP seats.

Incidentally, Ralph’s red Harbison Studio jumpsuit and white-clad backing choir coordinated with halftime performer Rihanna’s look, but Ralph’s daughter and stylist Ivy-Victoria Maurice said it was purely coincidental.

“We had no idea that Rihanna would be wearing red and her background dancers will be wearing white. This was unintentionally, intentionally planned,” Maurice told ET.