Usher says Super Bowl halftime show will be a career crescendo



February 8, 2024 – 3:46 PM PST

Usher takes part in moderated conversation ahead of Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., February 8, 2024. REUTERS/Mike Blake

LAS VEGAS (Reuters) – R&B superstar Usher, fresh off of a wildly successful Las Vegas residency, said his performance at Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show will be the latest peak in his 30-year career.

“Las Vegas has been amazing for me,” Usher, clad in a long black leather jacket, black gloves and dark sunglasses, told a packed press conference on Thursday.

“Having 100 sold-out shows at a residency and to have the next one be the crescendo, which will be the Super Bowl with Apple, is really giving my time here in Las Vegas an incredible button at the end.”

Usher is not new to the halftime show stage, having made a spectacular aerial entrance during a cameo in 2011 when the Black Eyed Peas were headlining. But his abiding memory from that night was when he struggled to free himself from the harness that had lowered him to the stage and he hopes Sunday’s performance will go a little more smoothly.

“My hand got caught in the wire that was holding me 30 feet in the air and I almost missed my first mark. I was like oh my God, don’t let this malfunction cost me to miss something,” he said.

“But afterwards it felt so amazing to be in front of that many people and feel the energy. So much so that it made me really passionate about eventually getting this moment.”

Born Usher Raymond IV, he released his first album in 1994 at the age of 16. His ninth, “Coming Home,” comes out on Friday. The 45-year-old called himself the only independent artist to ever headline the show, which is sponsored by tech giant Apple.

“It has definitely been a challenge to squeeze 30 years of music into 13 minutes,” he said with a laugh.

“I was very mindful of my past, celebrating my present here in Las Vegas, and thinking about where we’re headed in the future.”

His residency brought Atlanta culture to Las Vegas and although he has a North American tour kicking off in August, Usher said he may not be done with Sin City just yet.

“I visualize in these next few years that there will be more opportunity to build here in Las Vegas. I love this city,” he said.

In a press conference that doubled at times as a motivational speech, Usher repeatedly talked about the importance of believing in yourself and “putting in the work.”

“What you put in, you get out,” he said.

“I’ve been motivated by artists like Michael Jackson and that fact that he was a hard worker. Motivated by athletes like Michael Jordan and the dedication he put into his craft and his skill.

“He received recognition that made him a legend and that’s what I’ve always hoped for myself. That maybe someday I’d be recognized in the same light as those people.”

Reporting by Rory Carroll, editing by Pritha Sarkar