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Eric Church doesn’t like singing the National Anthem and often turns down the opportunity to do so, but he accepted the chance to sing it along with Jazmine Sullivan at Sunday’s Super Bowl because he says it’s time for unity.

Eric told the LA Times, “With what’s going on in America, it feels like an important time for a patriotic moment. An important time for unity. The fact that I’m a Caucasian country singer and she’s an African American R&B singer — I think the country needs that.”

He said why he doesn’t like to perform the song much, “I’ve avoided it forever. It’s an incredibly hard song to sing. And I’m not a vocalist — I’m a stylist. Somebody like me, you take some liberties with it, then you’ve gotten too far away from the melody and suddenly you’re a communist. Honestly, there’s just more to lose than to gain.”

Church is excited to perform with Jazmine Sullivan. He said, “I’d heard her name but I hadn’t really dug in. Roc Nation sent me her new project, ‘Heaux Tales,’ which I dig — kind of a concept album with different voices and different female perspectives. Then I did more of a dive, and God almighty she is good. Unbelievable vocalist.”

He and Sullivan have been working on their rendition this week. Eric offered, “We’re keeping it based around the melody. I’m giving, she’s giving — that’s the way that works. But that’s kind of what spoke to me. We’re unifying. And it’s a time in our country when we have to do that.”

The 2021 Super Bowl kicks off at 6:30 ET on CBS on Sunday, February 7, 2021.

Gallery: Eric Church