MESFIN FEKADU, AP Music Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — Super Bowl 51 may be about football, but celebrities matter, too. Here’s a breakdown of what is happening with entertainers on Sunday in Houston.
LUKE BRYAN DIDN’T PARTY TO PREPARE FOR SUPER BOWL
Luke Bryan, one of country music’s top party boys, said he toned down his lifestyle in preparation of his performance at the Super Bowl.
“It’s two months of preparation when you find out you’re doing the anthem,” Bryan said after singing the national anthem. “I haven’t went out any night so I’ve been a good boy preparing.”
He said he felt proud of his performance — especially after his fellow country singers contacted him to say they were impressed.
“I hope everybody felt that I did a great job with it. And when all my Nashville country music singer buddies are texting me ‘good job,’ I’m like, ‘All right, I did a good job,'” he said.
Bryan, who is from Georgia, said he was also proud to see former President George H.W. Bush — who recently received treatment for pneumonia for more than two weeks — at the game.
Bush, 92, took part in the pregame coin toss with his wife, Barbara, earning a huge ovation from the crowd.
“With what they’re dealing with health-wise, I think it was an honor and a privilege for America to see them,” Bryan said. “What a beautiful family, and for them to be here together it was a special moment. I was glad I got to witness it.”
‘HAMILTON’ STARS REUNITE FOR ‘AMERICA’
Tony Award winner Renee Elise Goldsberry said reuniting with her “Hamilton” co-stars to sing “America the Beautiful” at the Super Bowl marked a lifetime moment for her.
Goldsberry, Phillipa Soo and Jasmine Cephas performed as the Schuyler sisters — from the Broadway hit “Hamilton” — on Sunday, harmonizing like a veteran girl-group, and earning loud applause from the audience.
“It was a miracle. It feels really good. It’s the most exciting part, if you have to rank it, probably the best thing ever is to stand with them, hold hands and shake a little bit together because of the excitement of it all,” Goldsberry said after the performance.
The performer, who won a Tony last year for her role in the mega-hit musical, said the ladies took time to arrange the performance: “It was a pretty complicated arrangement harmonically.”
Aside from showing off her vocals, she was hoping to provide a sense of sisterhood on the football field.
“We’ve spent a lot of time in … ‘Hamilton’ trying to celebrate women and their role in history, and I’m just grateful that the NFL let us come here and sing that beautiful song,” she said.
And now Goldsberry can enjoy the rest of the game.
“I’m a big football fan, and what’s great about the Super Bowl is even if you’re not a big football fan, this is just very Americana,” she said. “It’s a time to celebrate our sport.”
SUPER BOWL IS EMOTIONAL FOR TARAJI
For Taraji P. Henson, being at the Super Bowl is sentimental.
The Oscar-nominated actress recalls watching football games on Sunday with her late father, and said Sunday she wished she could have brought him to the big game.
“It’s a big deal for me because I lost my dad and football was such a big part of us on Sundays. My stepmom would cook and we would watch football,” Henson said at the NRG Stadium before the Atlanta Falcons take on the New England Patriots.
“I love being this close to it and wished he was actually alive to go to a Super Bowl ’cause he’s never been to a Super Bowl,” she said.
GOING GOO-GOO FOR GAGA
Lady Gaga’s little monsters aren’t the only one anticipating her halftime show performance.
“You never know what’s going to come with her. It’s so hard to bet on what she might do, but that’s what’s fun,” said Dave Haywood of the Grammy-winning country trio Lady Antebellum. “She always pushes the limit and always goes for something over-the-top. I can’t wait to see it.”
Gaga will perform for 13 minutes. She sang the national anthem at last year’s game.
“She’s money. She’s got such a ridiculous voice. I love people that actually have the talent, that can actually stand onstage and I know it’s them,” said Noelle Scaggs of the alternative band Fitz & the Tantrums, who performed during the Tailgate Party. “I’m a big fan of hers.”
LADY ANTEBELLUM IS SCREAMING RISE UP
Lady A could stand for Lady Atlanta.
Two members of the “Need You Now” band — Haywood and Charles Kelley — are from Georgia and are celebrating the Falcons ahead of Super Bowl 51.
“We got our Falcons in the game, so this is a special one. We’ve actually gotten to perform at a couple Super Bowls before and I don’t think we’ve ever been as excited as we are for this one,” Kelley said.
The country group performed at a pre-Super Bowl concert Sunday, alongside O.A.R. and Tyler Farr.
Hillary Scott said they were excited to perform their new, high-energy single “You Look Good,” and then “go and watch the Super Bowl, which is, I think, that never gets old. It’s amazing.”
FITZ & THE TANTRUMS THANK NFL FOR HIT SONG
Fitz & the Tantrums released the addictive song “HandClap” last June, but months later it’s climbing the charts, and the band is thanking the NFL.
“The cool thing for us is that it kind of became one of those unofficial songs of the NFL this year because I think it started when the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders did a routine to it, and every other team’s cheerleading squad did a routine,” singer Michael Fitzpatrick said. “We’ve been all over NFL Network and all that kind of stuff, so we’ve just been on the road and playing.”
“HandClap” just climbed to No. 53 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making it the band’s highest-charting song on the Hot 100. “HandClap” has reached the Top 5 on the alternative and rock songs charts, respectively.
Fitz & the Tantrums sang the track at the Tailgate Party before Zac Brown Band hit the stage. The group says they are big football fans.
“I’m a Giants guy,” Fitzpatrick said.
“I’m a Packers girl,” Scaggs said.
“Our drummer is Seahawks. Our tour manager is Detroit Lions. So there’s been a few rivalries that have happened this year,” Fitzpatrick added.
“A lot of people hate me, basically, at the end of the year, that’s for sure,” Scaggs said.
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