Rihanna promises a ‘packed’ Super Bowl halftime show as she prepares for first live event in seven years


PHOENIX (AP) — Rihanna is pushing herself ahead of her Super Bowl halftime show, becoming so focused on what she promises will be «a jam-packed show» that she almost forgets her upcoming birthday and Valentine’s Day.

“The set list was the biggest challenge. That was the hardest part, the hardest. Deciding how to maximize 13 minutes but also celebrate: that’s what this show will be. It’s going to be a celebration of my catalog in the best way we could have,» Rihanna said.

In a media preview Thursday before Sunday’s game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, the music superstar and new mom he said his appearance, his first live event in seven years, feels «like it could only have been now.»

The singer said she was initially unsure about accepting the challenge of acting during a time when she was three months postpartum, wondering «should I make big decisions like this right now? I might regret this.

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

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

“At the end of the day, if it flops or flies, my name has to be there. So I really get involved in every aspect of everything I do,” she said.

Image: Rihanna performs at the Grammy Awards in New York in 2018.
Rihanna performs at the Grammy Awards in New York in 2018.Christopher Polk/Getty Images for NARAS archive

The halftime show’s sponsor, Apple Music, held a moderated event on Thursday, but moderator Nadeska Alexis was the only journalist allowed to ask Rihanna questions.

Rihanna joins a list of celebrated artists who have performed 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 performances by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar.

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

Country music star Chris Stapleton sing the national anthemwhile R&B legend Babyface will perform «America the Beautiful.» actor singer Sheryl Lee Ralph will also act «Lift up every voice and sing.» When asked who they were rooting for on Sunday, Ralph said he was rooting for the Eagles, while Stapleton and Babyface said they were rooting for Rihanna.

Ralph applauded the NFL for making an effort to be inclusive and «represent all people» through the three songs.

“In one day, Super Bowl Sunday, 200 million people came together to sit down and experience it here, what a time and what a way to bring us all together,” he said. «I’m very happy and very happy to be able to be on the 40-yard line.»

Babyface said he began singing «America the Beautiful» as a sophomore for a high school play.

“It’s hard to believe that it’s been so many years, it’s been so many years, that I’m here to sing ‘America the Beautiful,’” he said. “Back then, my mom was in the audience and she couldn’t believe that I was singing on stage. Like the shy child who got up singing. To think of her looking at this now and seeing me right now singing ‘America the Beautiful,’ it comes 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 acting makes him prouder to be an American. Miles said that «Lift Every Voice and Sing» represents resilience.

“The national anthem has 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 it or see it very often. There are many people who do not even know that the black national anthem exists. It’s not just for me to share this experience with the whole world, but to really bring that empowerment to millions of Black and Deaf people across the country who have never seen that before.»

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

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