Connecticut's Sheryl Lee Ralph, 'Abbott Elementary' actor, responds to Super Bowl lip-sync claims

Photo of Abby Weiss

Connecticut native and Emmy-winning actor Sheryl Lee Ralph said it doesn't matter if she lip-synced during Sunday's Super Bowl performance of "Lift Every Voice and Sing."

“Does it matter? Does it matter? No. Thank you,” she told The Hollywood Reporter following allegations.

The Waterbury-born actor sang the hymn, known as the "Black National Anthem," before the Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs game at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. A gospel choir accompanied Ralph as she belted the lyrics of the tune in a black and red jumpsuit. 

“Lift Every Voice and Sing” was written by former NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson in 1900 and was used as a rallying cry during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, according to the NAACP.  Ralph is the first Black person to perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing” on the field before the Super Bowl. 

“It’s just so amazing that they chose me. And then the Eagles are in the Super Bowl. I mean, come on. You know God must be a woman because all of this is just too perfect,” Ralph told The Hollywood Reporter. 

"Abbott Elementary" stars Quinta Brunson and Lisa Ann Walter were also present at the Super Bowl and proudly cheered on their co-star. Ralph won an Emmy Award in 2022 and earned a 2023 Golden Globes nomination for her role as Barbara Howard in the sitcom, which follows a group of Philadelphia-based public school teachers.

The actress was born in Waterbury and attended Driggs Elementary and Notre Dame Academy in the city. She received a Tony Award nomination for her performance in the original Broadway production of “Dreamgirls” in the 1980s and has appeared in many films and television shows like the 1990s sitcom, “Moesha.”

Ralph, an avid fan of the Eagles, gave the team a pep talk at the NFL Honors event on Thursday.

“With everything that you have been through, you know you are here because you are the winners,” she said. “All you have to do is what you continue to do: Work. Like. A team.”

The Eagles went on to lose the game to the Chiefs.