Rihanna poses for a photo after a halftime show news conference ahead of the Super Bowl 57 NFL football game, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023, in Phoenix. [Source: AP Entertainment]
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
Babyface said he first started singing “America the Beautiful” as a sophomore for a play in high school.
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.
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.