WASHINGTON, United States (AFP) – Superstar Rihanna will headline the Super Bowl halftime show in February, the main event sponsor Apple Music announced Sunday.
The move marks a long-awaited return to performing for the singer, who had previously turned down the gig in protest.
“IT’S ON. @rihanna will take the stage for the first ever Apple Music Super Bowl Halftime Show on 2.12.23,” Apple Music said in a tweet featuring a photo of the musician’s raised hand holding a football.
Rihanna, 34, and the NFL tweeted the same image.
The Barbadian-born Robyn Rihanna Fenty in recent years has become a billionaire, parlaying her music achievements into successful makeup, lingerie and high-fashion brands.
She made history by becoming the first Black woman to head a fashion house for the French powerhouse LVMH, which owns legacy brands including Fendi and Givenchy.
For the past few years, the singer behind the hits “Diamonds” and “Umbrella” has put music aside, at least publicly, to focus on her various businesses.
In January, she and rapper A$AP Rocky, 33, announced they were expecting a child with a set of glamorous snow-dusted images taken in Harlem.
They reportedly welcomed the baby, a boy, in May. No other details, including the child’s name, have been made public.
– Return to music –
Rihanna’s fierce fan base has been clamoring for her ninth album, “R9,” which she has said will be “reggae-infused” and has hinted since 2019 is nearly finished.
Performing at the Super Bowl is an about-face for the singer, who in 2019 confirmed reports to Vogue that she had turned down the NFL’s offer to play the coveted halftime show in solidarity with former player Colin Kaepernick.
Kaepernick, who has not played in the NFL since opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers in March 2017, began kneeling in protest of social injustice and racial inequality during pre-game renditions of the US national anthem six years ago.
“I couldn’t dare do that. For what? Who gains from that? Not my people. I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler,” she told the magazine in an interview.
Rihanna’s Super Bowl performance will follow an impeccably choreographed 2022 halftime show that featured rap legends including Dr. Dre, Snoop Dog and Eminem.
The 2021 halftime show featured Canadian artist The Weeknd, while Jennifer Lopez and Shakira performed the year before.
The halftime show has since 2019 been produced by Roc Nation, founded by New York rapper-turned-businessman Jay-Z.
Apple Music announced in September that it would be the main sponsor of the event, ousting Pepsi and reportedly paying $50 million for the privilege.
The 2022 Super Bowl, in which the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, drew an average of 112.3 million viewers on television and streaming, according to NBC Sports.