In a history-making performance, Jessie Reyez sang the Canadian national anthem while kneeling atop Toronto's CN Tower ahead of Game 1 of the first-round playoff series between the Raptors and Brooklyn Nets.
A video posted on the Toronto singer-songwriter's Instagram shows her taking off a mask reading "Breonna Taylor"—the name of the 26-year-old Black female fatally shot by Louisville police in March—and singing the U.S. national anthem as well. (Only "O Canada" was broadcast by Sportsnet.)
This marks the first time an artist has ever performed the Canadian and American anthems from the CN Tower's EdgeWalk—the ledge encircling the top of Canada's tallest free-standing structure, 116 storeys above ground.
The Grammy-nominated singer's decision to take a knee is also notable; though kneeling during the anthem is technically against NBA rules, players and officials have been doing so while in the bubble as a form of protest against police brutality and social injustice.
It's another highlight in what's already been a big year for Reyez. Last week, she performed "Before Love Came To Kill Us"—the eponymous track off her debut album, which dropped in March—on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. Just prior to that, she had a head-turning cameo during the song "SCAR" in Beyoncé's Black is King visual album.
Speaking to Complex Canada in March, Reyez said she felt conflicted dropping her album in the middle of a pandemic, but ultimately decided to move forward with it after fans encouraged her to.
"There's moments where I feel conviction in wanting to put it out because I feel like if it helps someone not feel alone during these times—someone that might be quarantined away from their family, somebody that might be missing their ex and can't do anything about it—then it'll help me feel justified in dropping it," she said. "But simultaneously, it's difficult when you're literally reading articles about different realities that people are facing, you know?"