For the second straight year, the Kentucky Derby is going to have a celebrity sing the Star-Spangled Banner, and like the inaugural turn last year, a country star will have the honors.
Lexington and Louisville NBC affiliates (WLEX and WAVE, respectively) are reporting chart-topper Rascal Flatts will perform the anthem live at Churchill Downs as part of pre-race festivities shown by NBC. The trio was just on national TV Sunday night performing their current hit Unstoppable, which host Reba McEntire joked was the Toyota theme song, on the Academy of Country Music Awards.
Rascal Flatts’ performance will be shortly after 5 p.m. on Derby day. This is not the group’s first brush with sports, as they recorded the intro for 2008 SEC and ACC football games – Hank Williams’ Monday Night Football style – on Raycom Sports.
Last year, one-time country teen sensation LeAnn Rimes became the first celebrity national anthem singer at the Derby, bringing the Run for the Roses in league with other marquee sporting events that – for better and sometimes worse – hand the mike to chart toppers.
This year, the Kentucky Oaks will get in on the act with Little Big Town singing the anthem before the fillies race on Derby Eve.