By Amy Tennery
(MAINNEWS) – PHOENIX, Nine-time Grammy Award winner Rihanna makes her highly anticipated return to live performance at Super Bowl 57 on Sunday, headlining a halftime show that will highlight her Caribbean culture.
The Barbados-born singer has not released a solo album since January 2016 and fans will be clamouring to see the 34-year-old chart-topper when she takes the stage for a global audience of millions at State Farm Stadium, where the Philadelphia Eagles will take on the Kansas City Chiefs.
The international superstar said she was inspired to take on the challenge after giving birth to her first child in May.
“When you become a mom there’s something that just happens (and) you feel like you can take on the world, you can do anything,” she told reporters in Phoenix on Thursday.
“So as scary as that was because I haven’t been on stage in seven years, there’s something exhilarating about the challenge of it all. And it’s important for me to do this, this year. It’s important for representation, it’s important for my son to see that.”
Rihanna’s only solo music in the last seven years came in October when she released “Lift Me Up” in tribute to late actor Chadwick Boseman for the Marvel film “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” and the singer was nominated for an Academy Award.
It is the second time Rihanna has been asked to perform at the Super Bowl after she reportedly turned down an offer in 2018 out of solidarity for quarterback Colin Kaepernick and his protest against racial injustice.
While the details of the annual halftime show are as closely guarded as the teams’ playbooks, Rihanna indicated that she would incorporate elements of her Caribbean culture in the performance.
“That’s a big part of why this is important for me to do this show: representation, representing for immigrants, representing for my country, Barbados, representing for Black women everywhere,” she said.
It will take a crew of 300 to 400 workers to assemble the stage in eight minutes and break it down just as quickly – a feat of ingenuity requiring military-like precision for the 13-minute halftime concert.
“It’s incredible – it’s almost impossible,” said Rihanna, who told a crowd of reporters on Thursday that she had not slept the night before when an on-site rehearsal ran long.
“I’ve been so focused on the Super Bowl I totally forgot that my birthday is coming up (on Feb. 20),” the singer added. “I totally forgot about Valentine’s Day. I’m just like, Super Bowl, Super Bowl, Super Bowl.”