Rihanna to headline Super Bowl half-time show

The Barbadian superstar previously turned down the gig in solidarity with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick

Rihanna's Super Bowl half-time show in February will mark the star's long-awaited return to performing. AFP
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Superstar Rihanna will headline the Super Bowl half-time show in February, the main event sponsor Apple Music announced on 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 tweeted, along with a photo of the musician's raised hand holding a football.

Rihanna, 34, and the NFL tweeted the same image.

The Barbadian Robyn Rihanna Fenty recently become a billionaire, parlaying her music achievements into successful make-up, 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.

She reportedly had 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 clamouring for her ninth album, R9, which she has said will be "reggae-infused" and has hinted, since 2019, that it 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 half-time show in solidarity with former player Colin Kaepernick.

The quarterback, 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 half-time show this year that featured rap legends including Dr Dre, Snoop Dog and Eminem.

The 2021 show featured Canadian artist The Weeknd, while Jennifer Lopez and Shakira performed the year before.

Since 2019, the half-time show has 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, taking over from Pepsi and reportedly paying $50 million for the privilege.

This year's 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.

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Updated: September 26, 2022, 7:19 AM