Now that the NFL Draft is one of the biggest television events of the sports calendar and serves as a big-time in-person entertainment destination, the NFL must give it its proper pageantry. Just like at every NFL game and the Super Bowl, the NFL Draft has a designated National Anthem singer. This year, another song will also be sung. For the first time, a song commonly referred to as “The Black National Anthem,” titled “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” will be sung as well.
Kansas City Native, Grammy Nominee To Sing ‘Lift Up Your Voice And Sing’
Oleta Adams will be singing “Lift Up Your Voice and Sing” to begin the 2023 NFL Draft festivities. Adams is a multi-Grammy nominated artist who is known for rich gospel roots. She is the daughter of a preacher who was raised on gospel music.
In her youth in Washington, she got the itch for singing through participation in her youth choir. After receiving early rejection in her career, she made Kansas City her home in the 1980s. While performing locally, her recording career began to take off.
After singing the National Anthem at Game 2 of the 1984 American League Championship Series, she was discovered in 1984 by the founders of the band Tears for Fears. Upon joining them in 1987, she released the album Seeds of Love in 1989, and the song “Woman in Chains” became her first hit. From there, the rest is history.
“Lift Up Your Voice and Sing” will be sung by Adams live from downtown Kansas City to start the night’s festivities. The song is commonly referred to as the “Black National Anthem.” It was included in the NFL’s pre-game and event schedules to kick off the 2020 season, with the 2021 NFL Draft being the first time it was performed at a draft.
Troy Vincent had this to say when introducing the decision back in 2020: “This Christian hymn about the struggle for freedom and equality inspires hope. It has encouraged generations of Black people that God will lead us to the promises of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. It’s as pertinent in today’s environment as it was when it was written.”
The song was written first as a poem by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson in the year 1900. His brother would later compose the music for the lyrics.
According to the NAACP, “a choir of 500 schoolchildren at the segregated Stanton School, where James Weldon Johnson was principal, first performed the song in public in Jacksonville, Florida to celebrate President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.”
You can watch the NFL Draft in its entirety in several ways. First, you can watch the Pro Football Network livestream event hosted by Brett Yarris, featuring analysis from Tony Pauline, Trey Wingo, Ian Cummings, Dalton Miller, and Tommy Garrett.
That will begin at 7:45 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 27, and go all the way through the end of the first round, covering every inch of the NFL Draft order. PFN will have the picks before the networks, so tune in to find out who was selected and where before anybody else.
Additionally, the NFL Draft will be broadcast on NFL Network, ABC, ESPN, and ESPN Deportes, with additional coverage on NFL+. The first round begins on Thursday, April 27, at 8 p.m. ET. Both Rounds 2 and 3 will commence on Friday, April 28, beginning at 7 p.m. ET. Finally, Rounds 4-7 will take place on Saturday, April 29, starting at Noon ET.
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