US singer Rihanna will perform the coveted Super Bowl half-time show in February 2023, after declining an invitation in 2019 Super Bowl out of solidarity with Colin Kaepernick.
The announcement was made on Sunday by the NFL. Rihanna posted an image on Instagram of an outstretched arm holding an NFL football.
“Rihanna is a generational talent, a woman of humble beginnings who has surpassed expectations at every turn,” said Jay-Z in a statement; the hip hop artist’s entertainment agency, Roc Nation, is an executive producer of the half-time show. “A person born on the small island of Barbados who became one of the most prominent artists ever. Self-made in business and entertainment.”
The Super Bowl will take place at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, on 12 February. After years of Pepsi’s sponsorship, the upcoming half-time show will be sponsored by Apple Music.
Rihanna earlier said she turned down a similar opportunity for the 2019 Super Bowl, which was ultimately headlined by Maroon 5. At the time, many artists voiced support for Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who protested police brutality against Black people and minorities by kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.
“I couldn’t dare do that. For what?” Rihanna told Vogue in 2019. “Who gains from that? Not my people. I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler. There’s things within that organization that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way,” she said of the league.
Kaepernick accused the NFL of colluding to keep him out of the league, in a case that was eventually settled in early 2019.
In 2019, the NFL partnered with Roc Nation (which manages Rihanna) to help pick performers for the Super Bowl, and strategize the half-time show. The widely acclaimed 2022 show featured Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and Mary J. Blige.
With sales of more than 250 million records worldwide, Rihanna ranks as one of the bestselling female artists ever. Her last album was 2016’s Anti; Rihanna last performed publicly at the Grammy awards in 2018.
In the years since, Rihanna has occasionally teased her music return. Earlier this year, she had her first child with the rapper ASAP Rocky.