Aaron Neville, whose New Orleans home was severely damaged by Hurricane Katrina, says he isn’t returning to his hometown just yet.
“I have asthma and can’t inhale that stuff that they have in the air down there,” said Neville, who is now living in Tennessee.
The Grammy-winning singer will perform the national anthem at Sunday’s Super Bowl with Aretha Franklin and keyboardist Dr. John.
Neville said he’s hoping his appearance will call attention to the rebuilding efforts in New Orleans. The NFL has said it selected Neville in part to honor the singer’s hometown.
“I’m trying to keep this thing in the focus,” he told The Associated Press in a phone interview. “We can’t let it get out of people’s minds that something tragic happened in New Orleans.”
The public address announcer will refer to the rebuilding process when Neville, Franklin and Dr. John are introduced at Ford Field.
Neville, known for his smooth voice and songs such as “Tell It Like It Is,” said he’s excited about singing alongside Franklin.
“I’ll start it, then she’ll take the bridge and we’ll do some harmony stuff,” he said. “We’ll be singing to a track, but we’ll be singing live.”
A 150-member choir from the Detroit area will provide backup vocals.
Neville also performed the national anthem at the 1990 Super Bowl in New Orleans.
The singer said he’s getting ready to record an R&B album in Nashville “for people my age.”
“They say I’m 65, but I feel like I’m 35.”