January 17, 2019
by John Larson
The NFL and CBS have now officially announced that rock band Maroon 5 and rappers Travis Scott and Big Boi will perform at the Super Bowl LIII, which will take place at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium on February 3, 2019. In addition, Gladys Knight will perform the National Anthem at the beginning of the game. CBS will have the U.S. telecast of Super Bowl LIII.
The news that Maroon 5 (whose lead singer is “The Voice” coach Adam Levine) would be headlining the 2019 Super Bowl halftime show leaked out in September 2018, but the official announcement didn’t come until months later. The news resulted in considerable controversy, as critics said that anyone performing at the Super Bowl this year essentially agreed with the NFL’s policy against NFL players taking one knee to kneel during the National Anthem as a sign of protest of police brutality against black and brown people. Former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, who many say was ousted from the NFL because of his Black Lives Matter activism, has been named as a poster child for the “take a knee” movement. Several black and brown artists, such as Jay-Z, Rihanna and Cardi B said they turned down offers to perform at the 2019 Super Bowl because they want to stand in solidarity with Kaepernick, who has since signed a lucrative spokesperson deal with Nike. Entertainers such as Jay-Z, Amy Schumer and Rihanna also publicly urged artists to boycott the Super Bowl halftime performance until the NFL changed its policy to allow NFL players to “take a knee” during the National Anthem.
Before it was announced that Scott and Big Boi would be performing, the NFL received immense backlash for choosing Los Angeles-based Maroon 5 (a band whose members are all white except for a black keyboard player) to headline the Super Bowl halftime show instead of choosing a black artist or an artist from Atlanta. However, it seems many of the major black artists who were approached to perform at Super Bowl LII turned down the gig. Jay-Z, Rihanna and Cardi B are just the ones who went public with their rejection of the Super Bowl halftime show. Many more could have been asked and said no to the gig, but have not gone public about it. Big Boi, a former member of OutKast, is a native of Atlanta, and so is Knight.