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Luke Bryan Delivers Impassioned National Anthem at 2017 Super Bowl

Luke Bryan took the field on Sunday (Feb. 5) to perform the National Anthem at Super Bowl LI, one of the highest-profile gigs in show business.

Dressed in a simple shirt, jeans and a dark jacket, Bryan delivered a pretty straight reading of the anthem until the end, when he threw in some flourishes as Air Force Thunderbirds did a fly-by over the stadium. His performance earned a rousing cheer from the crowd on hand at NRG Stadium.

The New England Patriots squared off against the Atlanta Falcons for this year’s big game, with Bryan admitting beforehand that he was rooting for the Falcons.

Hopefully, the reaction to Bryan’s performance will be better than he received in 2012 after he sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the MLB All-Star Game. That performance caused a giant controversy online when fans criticized the superstar for reading the lyrics to the anthem off his hand while he sang.

Nevertheless, Bryan says he didn’t hesitate when the NFL asked him to sing at Super Bowl, which is a high-pressure gig that draws one of the biggest viewing audiences of the year.

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“I said, ‘Hell yes, I’ll do it!’” Bryan tells People about the honor.

“Is the anthem challenging? Yes. Is it nerve-wracking? Yes. But I moved to Nashville to follow my dreams and singing the national anthem on that stage doesn’t get any bigger.”

Of course, there’s a little less pressure on performers to get the song right, since the National Anthem performance at the Super Bowl is pre-recorded, with the singer singing along live to their canned performance to ensure a clean take. That’s been standard practice ever since 1993, after Garth Brooks threatened to walk out of his scheduled performance when the network would not air his controversial video for “We Shall Be Free.”

The network ultimately caved in, and Brooks did perform, but ever since then the NFL has made it a requirement that all Super Bowl renditions of the anthem are pre-recorded, according to former Super Bowl Music Director Ricky Minor.

“That’s the right way to do it,” he says. “There’s too many variables to go live. I would never recommend any artist go live, because the slightest glitch would devastate the performance.”

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