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Super Bowl National Anthem Singer Renee Fleming Praises NFL for Going 'Way Outside' the Box in Choice

Theo Wargo/FilmMagic/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Renee Fleming was an unorthodox choice to sing the national anthem at the Super Bowl this Sunday. She would be the first to tell you that.

Fleming will become the first opera singer to perform "The Star-Spangled Banner" at a Super Bowl when she takes the field at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey. At a press conference Thursday, she noted that the honor usually goes to someone who is "very commercially successful, top pop mainstream, sometimes country performers, and never anybody outside of that.  So this is way outside."

That's why Fleming says she was "shocked and surprised," but also "thrilled" and "honored," when she was asked to make the appearance. She calls it the top achievement in her career.

That's saying something, since she's won four Grammys, was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Obama, and has performed at major events such as the Diamond Jubilee Concert for Queen Elizabeth II and the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. Fleming is performing at New York's Met Opera in Rusalka through February.

Though the New York City area has experienced unusually low temperatures lately, Fleming doesn't expect the cold weather to bother her, since she was raised in upstate New York, where harsh winters are the norm.

Fleming joked at the press conference, "I want to thank Rochester for preparing me for singing in the cold as we're fond of saying, we Upstaters when we're even living in New York -- I've spent my adult life in New York City -- 'Oh, this is nothing.'"

Fortunately for Fleming, the forecast for Sunday is encouraging, with an expected high temperature around 45 degrees.

Queen Latifah will sing "America the Beautiful" at the Super Bowl, while Bruno Mars will provide the halftime entertainment. Fox will televise the game, which features the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks.

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