Super Bowl halftime headliner Usher’s past, present and future

Usher poses for the news media on Thursday at the Super Bowl Halftime Show news conference. (Alicia Garcia/MEDILL)

By Akshat Jain and Alicia Garcia
Medill Reports

Eight-time Grammy winner Usher, who is slated to headline Apple Music’s Super Bowl halftime show, told a packed news conference room last week that he wants to be known for not just R&B, but also for his vast body of work.

It’s nice to be in any category, but not to be categorized is what I’d always hoped,” Usher said.

Usher, who dropped his first album in 1994, compiled an impressive body of work over the course of the following three decades, belting out numerous chart-topping songs, both solo and through collaborations with various artists who share his creative vision. While his lengthy catalog offers numerous possibilities to go about curating his show, it brings up its own unique challenge.

“I got to do (the show) in 13 minutes, and that makes it a bit difficult,” Usher said. “It definitely has been a challenge to squeeze 30 years into 13 minutes.”

Usher is no stranger to Las Vegas, a city where he sold out over 100 shows during his residency and was awarded with the key to the city. While expressing gratitude at being presented the opportunity to perform in front of a global audience, he was reflective of his past body of work, appreciative of his present success, yet hungry for the opportunities that lay ahead.

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

Every year, there is palpable buzz regarding potential guest artists that the headliner may invite to share the stage. This year is no exception. Usher confirmed to the gathered media that he was planning on bringing some guests on stage but remained coy on their identities. As it turned out, it was a rather simple decision.

I think I made it easy for myself when I decided to have features on songs that became hit records,” he said. “So that gave me the greatest point of reference.”

Usher teased an all-access documentary show will take his fans behind the scenes and give a detailed look at how the show was put together — “from the first moment that I got the call, all the way up until the moment that I walk off the (Super Bowl) stage.”

While the Super Bowl is the end of the NFL season, Usher considers it his launching point.

“I ain’t done here,” he said. “I’m going to continue to keep going. ‘Past, Present, Future’ is my tour, and I plan on now sharing a bit of this energy that I created here with the rest of the world.”


Akshat Jain and Alicia Garcia are sports media graduate students at Medill. You can connect with Akshat on LinkedIn. You can follow Alicia on X @alicia_simontv.