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  • Writer's pictureThe Sound Cafe

Star-Studded Performances For 149th Kentucky Derby Weekend Featuring Carly Pearce & Rachel Platten

Churchill Downs Racetrack announced that GRAMMY® award-winning country music singer, songwriter and Kentucky native Carly Pearce will sing the national anthem at the 149th Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve on Saturday, May 6, 2023. In addition, singer and songwriter Rachel Platten will be kicking off Derby weekend by performing the national anthem and her hit "Fight Song" during the Kentucky Oaks Survivor's Parade at the Longines Kentucky Oaks on Friday, May 5.

The announcement comes at an exciting time for Carly, who made history in February with her first GRAMMY® Award win for "Never Wanted To Be That Girl" with Ashley McBryde, becoming the first female pairing to win an award in that category. The singer's live performance of "The Star-Spangled Banner" will take place just after 5:00 p.m. EDT and will be broadcast live as part of NBC's Kentucky Derby coverage, expected to reach more than 16 million fans worldwide.

"Carly Pearce has been taking the country music world by storm with an impressive year of musical performances," said Mike Anderson, President of Churchill Downs Racetrack. "We are excited for her to take center stage in Louisville to sing our national anthem and kick off this storied celebration."

The reigning ACM Awards Female Artist of the of the Year recently earned her fourth career No. 1 song with "What He Didn't Do" which she performed at the CMT Music Awards earlier this month in addition to a standout performance of "Just a Girl" with Gwen Stefani. Carly released her first live album 29: Written In Stone (Live From Music City) last month and is currently on the road touring.

Carly joins a distinguished list of major artists to perform the national anthem at the Kentucky Derby. Past artists who have performed include Brittney Spencer (2022), Tori Kelly (2021), Jennifer Nettles (2019), Pentatonix (2018), Harry Connick, Jr. (2017), Lady A (2016), Josh Groban (2015), Jo Dee Messina (2014), Martina McBride (2013), and Mary J. Blige (2012).

The Longines Kentucky Oaks will feature singer-songwriter Rachel Platten performing both our national anthem as well as her chart-topping hit "Fight Song" – which she will sing live during the Kentucky Oaks Survivors Parade at 3:00pm EDT on Friday, May 5. The parade is a moving tradition that celebrates breast and ovarian cancer survivors and encourages those still fighting their cancer battle with a march on Churchill Downs' historic racetrack prior to the running of the Longines Kentucky Oaks. Platten's widely popular track, an uplifting message of hope, courage and strength, is the perfect accompaniment for this empowering tribute. The 15th Kentucky Oaks Survivors Parade will honor the 149 survivors and fighters who have been selected. Platten's national anthem performance will take place 5:00pm EDT.

"Rachel Platten's 'Fight Song' has become an anthem for those fighting against breast and ovarian cancers," said Casey Ramage, Vice President of Marketing, Brand and Partnerships. "We are honored to have her perform this empowering song and partner with her for our first-ever live performance during the Kentucky Oaks Survivors Parade."

The $3 million Kentucky Derby takes place on the first Saturday in May at historic Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Inaugurated in 1875, the legendary 1 1/4-mile race for three-year-olds is the longest continually-held major sporting event in North America and the first leg of horse racing's Triple Crown series. Also known as, "The Run for the Roses®" and "The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports®," the Kentucky Derby is the most attended horserace in the nation. This year, the Kentucky Derby will take place on May 6, 2023. For more information, please visit

Churchill Downs Racetrack ("CDRT"), the world's most legendary racetrack, has been the home of The Kentucky Derby, the longest continually held annual sporting event in the United States, since 1875. Located in Louisville, CDRT features a series of themed race days during Derby Week, including the Kentucky Oaks, and conducts Thoroughbred horse racing during three race meets in the Spring, September, and the Fall. CDRT is located on 175 acres and has a one-mile dirt track, a 7/8-mile turf track, a stabling area, and provides seating for approximately 60,000 guests. The stable area has barns sufficient to accommodate 1,400 horses and a 114-room dormitory for backstretch personnel. CDRT also has a year-round simulcast wagering facility.


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