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Usher on Performing at the Super Bowl and Almost Leaving Music: “Should I Continue to Do This, or Should I Pivot?”

Usher is headlining Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show, but the superstar admits he previously had thoughts of leaving the music industry.

“I hadn’t had a successful record as successful as [2004’s] Confessions, and there was this analyzing [thought], like, ‘Man, should I continue to do this, or should I pivot and become an actor?'” he tells The Hollywood Reporter.

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But the singer pressed on and told himself, “No, I want to do what I really love.” That’s when he launched his residency in Sin City, which became a white-hot success.

“I went to Las Vegas with no promise in a time when the world was not going anywhere because we were in a pandemic, and [I] had the hope that I could arouse people enough to come to Las Vegas and celebrate with me,” he explains. “And it turned into, not only the most successful moments of Las Vegas history, but one of the most successful moments in my life.”

He continues, “And then to play the Super Bowl, that right there is a virtuous story of belief in self, man. I’m a 45-year-old artist who has found my way into an incredible moment as a result of belief in myself and the fact that I didn’t let anything deter it, no matter what it looked like, no matter what the comparison to previous albums were. I didn’t care about none of that. I was like, ‘I believe in making quality and quality performance matters. I want to go to Las Vegas where I can spread my wings and be creative and do things the way I want to do them; not just wait for a successful album in hopes that I’m going to be able to put together a tour and travel the world.’” Adding, “the crescendo of that is the fucking Super Bowl. Man, I’m so happy and blessed.”

Usher.
Usher.

Usher will perform at the halftime show at Allegiant Stadium in Paradise, Nevada, where the defending Super Bowl champs Kansas City Chiefs will take on the San Francisco 49ers. He has won eight Grammy Awards and launched 18 Top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, including nine No. 1s, from “Nice & Slow” to “Yeah!” to “Confessions Part II.” He will release a new album, Coming Home, on Friday and will start his Past Present Future Tour this summer.

This year is extra special for the performer for several reasons: He’s also celebrating the 20th anniversary of his diamond-certified 2004 album Confessions and the 30th anniversary of his self-titled debut, which was released in 1994 when he was just 15.

He knows he’s had enough success to headline the halftime show in the past, but he says it feels amazing getting to achieve the feat at this point in his career — and life.

“God allows things to happen in the time that they’re intended,” he explains. “The industries, the places that we see and we hold so dear like the Grammys and being recognized by the Academies and being recognized in these major places, I think that they’re changing. I think that they’re becoming more clear and keyed into culture in a different way. And that’s good. Should I have performed earlier at the Super Bowl based off of the hit records that I had? I don’t think it’s about a hit-record moment. I think it’s a celebration of a career. Everybody that has had that moment, they’ve had a career that spanned, and they reached a place where the world needed to see and celebrate it and recognize that person.”

Usher continues, “You look at Shakira and Jennifer Lopez and the fact that they’re celebrating their culture. You know what I’m saying? This year, Univision, this will be their first time ever televising the Super Bowl, so it’s growing, but it’s recognizing the culture of the world and not just the circle that it has for Sunday and in football. That Halftime performance has spanned far beyond the reach of just America.”

Usher.
Usher.

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