Sevyn Streeter flew in to Philly to sing the national anthem at the Sixers game on Wednesday. She never got the chance to do so.
Streeter posted a video during the game, telling her followers and fans the Sixers had a problem with her shirt, customized to say “We Matter.”
Tatiana Ward, a celebrity makeup artist with local roots who goes by the name Beat Face Honey, told Billy Penn about the exchange she witnessed first hand between the performer and a Sixers team representative.
After Streeter’s video began making the rounds online, the Sixers sent Billy Penn the following statement:
“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.”
Ward said Streeter and her team were ready and excited to perform before they were told no.
“I walked into the arena hearing her amazing voice bellowing through the Wells Fargo. And I was like oh I guess she’s here,” said Ward. “Who better because she’s a real vocalist. I just couldn’t wait for the crowd to hear it.”
After the soundcheck, Ward and Streeter discussed her look for the night.
“I asked her specifically, ‘Are you going kneel or anything?’ She said, ‘I’m not going to do that. My shirt says it all.'”
Streeter coyly told her she’d have to wait to see the jersey. When Ward did, she instantly loved it. The makeup artist said Streeter had asked a stylist to have it made.
Streeter was given specifics on how her rendition should be sung, instructions not to kneel, Ward said, but the Sixers hadn’t requested approval of her apparel before she went on. Streeter also told ESPN that she had no dress code of any sort. The Sixers did not immediately respond to our request for comment regarding any previous agreement about a dress code.
“It all happened so fast,” said Ward. “It was like a spiral,” the makeup artist told us, explaining she saw an official have a discussion with Streeter’s manager. “He leaves and the manager says she can’t perform. Literally the last minute, we’re getting her out the door, and they say she can’t sing.”
Streeter was given the opportunity to change, but she declined, said Ward. The makeup artist also said she declined their offer to stay and watch the game.
Streeter told ESPN the ordeal was hurtful. “I was angry, extremely, extremely angry, and disappointed and honestly brought to tears by all of it. It broke my heart,” the singer said.
“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,” she told the network. “Yes, we live in the greatest country in the world, but there are issues that we cannot ignore. This can’t be ignored.”
Ward echoed that thought.
“This is exactly what we’re fighting. I’m proud of her for standing her ground,” Ward said. “This is a black dominated industry, and to deny someone in that way was really powerful and really upsetting… I know they have a brand but that brand consists of so many black lives, from the players to the fans.”