Philadelphia 76ers national anthem singer Sevyn Streeter claims she was told by the team she could not perform before Wednesday night’s opener because of her “We Matter” jersey.

Sevyn Streeter Says 76ers Denied Her Anthem Performance Over ‘We Matter’ Jersey

Streeter, 30, was scheduled to sing ahead of the Sixers’ season opener against the Oklahoma City Thunder, although she said in an interview with The Associated Press late Wednesday that she was informed she would not sing just minutes before her performance.

“I’d say two minutes before we were about to walk out … the organization told me that I could not wear my shirt while singing the national anthem at their game,” the R&B singer said by phone. “I was never given any kind of dress code. I was never asked beforehand to show my wardrobe.”


The Sixers did not explicitly say why Streeter’s performance was canceled.

“The Philadelphia 76ers organization encourages meaningful actions to drive social change. We use our games to bring people together, to build trust and to strengthen our communities. As we move from symbolic gestures to action, we will continue to leverage our platform to positively impact our community,” the team said in a statement.

The NBA declined to comment.

Sixers guard Gerald Henderson stated he thought something seemed different moments before the anthem, which was performed instead by Jemila Worley, a Sixers dance team member.

“I saw the little pause there. … I was wondering, something had crossed my mind like, ‘What’s going on? Did something happen?'” Henderson said. “That was pretty big time for a cheerleader to step in there, and she killed it!”

Henderson did not learn that Streeter was supposed to sing the anthem until he was told after the game by a reporter.

“There’s a lot going on man,” Henderson said. “People care about these things that are happening, as well as they should. And they are going to express themselves in different ways. … People are trying to make statements, I guess.”

Streeter has written songs for Chris Brown and Ariana Grande, among other major artists. In 2013, she had a Top 40 hit with “It Won’t Stop,” a duet with Brown that reached Recording Industry Association of America gold status.

The vocalist, born Amber Denise Streeter, said she was very vexed by the NBA team’s actions.

“I was angry, extremely, extremely angry, and disappointed and honestly brought to tears by all of it. It broke my heart,” she said. “Honestly, I was very excited about being able to perform the national anthem. I was really looking forward to that.”

This incident marks the second time the Sixers become mired in a controversy related to the national anthem. A woman performing ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ before their NBA preseason game in Miami did so while kneeling at mid-court.

Denasia Lawrence opened her jacket right before she began to sing, revealing a “Black Lives Matter” shirt, then fell to her left knee and performed the song. She stated it was her way of protesting racial oppression.

Sitting or kneeling during the national anthem has recently become a controversial move displayed by several major athletes. San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the protest before an NFL pre-season game, and now the protest has been carried out at professional, collegiate, and even high school sports games all across the country.

“I also felt it was important to express the ongoing challenges and ongoing injustice we face as a black community within the United States of America — that’s very important to me,” Streeter said. “Yes, we live in the greatest country in the world, but there are issues that we cannot ignore. This can’t be ignored.”

LOS ANGELES, CA – NOVEMBER 18: Singer/songwriter Sevyn Streeter performs on stage during the Music Choice Presents: Sound Check Sessions With Sevyn Streeter at El Rey Theatre on November 18, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Music Choice)

 

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