Even though megastars such as Lady Gaga, Madonna, Beyonce, Justin Timberlake and even Prince – who performed instead of taking questions – braved the podium over the years, none had to deal with the contentious topic of Colin Kaepernick.
All of the participating artists this year, as well as national anthem singer Gladys Knight, have faced backlash from fans who believe the only justice for the former NFL quarterback – sidelined since 2017 over kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to racism and police brutality in America – is to boycott any NFL production.
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A Change.org petition that began circulating months ago, calling for Maroon 5 to nix their Super Bowl halftime appearance, has garnered more than 111,000 signatures.
While Scott announced that his participation was contingent upon the NFL making a sizable donation to the Dream Corps organization, both Maroon 5 and Big Boi have gone radio silent.
Meanwhile, other performers, including Jermaine Dupri – who curated the week of free concerts at Centennial Olympic Park – and Lil Jon, who is performing with Ludacris, Migos and other Atlanta rappers Thursday night at State Farm Arena, have discussed their decision to participate in Super Bowl events frequently and candidly. Gladys Knight also explained why she decided to sing the national anthem before the game.
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“I am here today and on Sunday, Feb. 3 to give the anthem back its voice, to stand for that historic choice of words, the way it unites us when we hear it and to free it from the same prejudices and struggles I have fought long and hard for all my life, from walking back hallways, from marching with our social leaders, from using my voice for good,” she said. “I have been in the forefront of this battle longer than most of those voicing their opinions to win the right to sing our country’s Anthem on a stage as large as the Super Bowl LIII.”