ARIZONA NEWS

Rihanna vows a ‘jam-packed’ Super Bowl halftime show

Feb 9, 2023, 6:00 PM

PHOENIX (AP) — Rihanna is putting in the work ahead of her Super Bowl halftime show, focusing so hard on what she promises will be “a jam-packed show” that her upcoming birthday and Valentine’s Day almost slipped her mind.

“The setlist was the biggest challenge. That was the hardest, hardest part. Deciding how to maximize 13 minutes but also celebrate — that’s what this show is going to be. It’s going to be a celebration of my catalog in the best way that we could have put it together,” Rihanna said.

At a media preview Thursday ahead of Sunday’s matchup between the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs, the music superstar and new mom said her appearance — her first live event in seven years — feels “like it could have only been now.”

The singer said she was initially unsure about taking on the challenge of performing during a time when she was three months postpartum and wondered “should I be making major decisions like this right now? I might regret this.”

“But when you become a mom, there’s something that just happens where you feel like you can take on the world, you can do anything,” Rihanna said. “The Super Bowl is one of the biggest stages of the world. As scary as that was, because I hadn’t been on stage in seven years, there’s something exhilarating about the challenge of it all.”

A nine-time Grammy Award-winner, Rihanna has 14 No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits, including “We Found Love,” “Work,” “Umbrella” and “Disturbia.” She and rapper A$AP Rocky recently welcomed her first child.

“At the end of the day, if it flops or it flies, my name has to stand by that. And so I really get involved with every aspect of anything I do,” she said.

Halftime performance sponsor Apple Music held a moderated event Thursday, but moderator Nadeska Alexis was the only journalist allowed to ask Rihanna questions.

Rihanna joins a list of celebrated entertainers who have played during Super Bowl halftime shows, including Beyoncé, Madonna, Coldplay, Katy Perry, U2, Lady Gaga, Michael Jackson, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira and The Weeknd. Last year, hip-hop was celebrated with Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar all performing.

The singer had previously declined to perform in the 2019 halftime show out of solidarity with Colin Kaepernick. But she has said that the timing and circumstances this time around were right for her.

Country music star Chris Stapleton will sing the national anthem, while R&B legend Babyface will perform “America the Beautiful.” Actor-singer Sheryl Lee Ralph will also perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” When asked who they were cheering for on Sunday, Ralph said she was rooting for the Eagles while Stapleton and Babyface said they were backing Rihanna.

Ralph applauded the NFL for making an effort toward being inclusive and “represent all people” through the three songs.

“On a day, Super Bowl Sunday, 200 million people coming together to sit and experience it here, what a time and what a way to bring us all together,” she said. “I’m very pleased and very happy to be able to be on the 40-yard line.”

Babyface said he first started singing “America the Beautiful” as a sophomore for a play in high school.

“It’s hard to believe that so many years ago, which is a lot of years ago, that I’m here to sing ‘America the Beautiful,’” he said. “Back then, my mom was in the audience and she couldn’t believe I was up there on the stage singing. Like the shy kid who actually got up there singing. To think of her looking at this now and see me at this moment singing ‘America the Beautiful,’ it’s full circle.”

Oscar winner Troy Kotsur will perform the national anthem in American sign language. Colin Denny will sign “America the Beautiful” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing” will be signed by Justina Miles.

Through an interpreter, Kotsur said performing makes him feel prouder to be an American. Miles said “Lift Every Voice and Sing” represents resilience.

“The national anthem never really resonated with me personally, but the Black national anthem is really inspiring and empowering,” Miles said. “This song is so positive and so beautiful. You don’t really hear or see it very often. There’s many folks who don’t even know the Black national anthem even exist. It’s not only for me to share this experience with the whole world, but to really bring that empowerment to millions of Black, deaf people all over the country who’ve never seen that before.”

Apple Music this year replaced Pepsi, which sponsored the show for the past 10 years. Terms were not announced, but analysts had expected the league to get at least $50 million per year for the rights.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

Two additional measles cases in Maricopa County were identified Feb. 22, 2024. (Photo by Fiona Good...

Danny Shapiro

Maricopa County announces 2 additional cases of measles, more possible exposure sites

Maricopa County announced two more cases of measles Thursday, about two weeks after an initial case involving an international visitor was confirmed.

17 minutes ago

Entrance to the Internal Revenue Service building....

KTAR.com

Arizona launches legal battle against IRS to halt taxation of state-issued tax rebate

Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes said the state is suing the IRS in hopes of stopping it from taxing a state-issued tax rebate.

1 hour ago

Three panel image, left to right, of Ruben Gallego, Kari Lake and Kyrsten Sinema...

Kevin Stone

New Arizona Senate poll: Ruben Gallego up big over Kari Lake in race for Kyrsten Sinema’s seat

A new poll on Arizona's U.S. Senate race is good news for Ruben Gallego, bad news for Kari Lake and worse news for Kyrsten Sinema.

2 hours ago

Brunson Lee elementary school district sign...

KTAR.com

Manhunt yields no results after shooting suspect seen going into Phoenix elementary school

A manhunt came up empty after a shooting suspect was seen running into an elementary school before students arrived Thursday morning.

5 hours ago

Chandler innovation fair 2024 East Valley...

Serena O'Sullivan

Chandler Innovation Fair to celebrate innovation with hundreds of hands-on science exhibits

The yearly Chandler Innovation Fair, which celebrates innovators and scientists of all ages in the East Valley, will return on Saturday.

7 hours ago

Follow @ktar923...

Sponsored Content by Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Here’s 1 way to ensure your family is drinking safe water

Water is maybe one of the most important resources in our lives, and especially if you have kids, you want them to have access to safe water.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Rihanna vows a ‘jam-packed’ Super Bowl halftime show