Beyonce just 1 of many stars at Super Bowl
FILE - This Jan. 27, 2013 file photo shows actor-singer Justin Timberlake at the 19th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. The Recording Academy announced Wednesday, Jan. 30, that the pop star will perform at the awards show on Feb. 10. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The entertainment leading up to the Super Bowl is so A-list, Beyonce may not even have the most anticipated performance surrounding the big game.
Justin Timberlake is due to give his first major musical performance in four years. Stevie Wonder is performing for the masses at an outdoor concert. CeeLo Green is reuniting with his old hip-hop clique, Goodie Mob, and Rascal Flatts is teaming up with Journey for a concert. Those represent only a fraction of the all-star events to celebrate the Super Bowl.
"The Super Bowl has become such a big event in itself. So many people come from everywhere, looking to not only be a part of the Super Bowl but also the festivities leading up to the game," said CeeLo, who is performing at ESPN's Next event. "There's so much to do, from parties, concerts and events."
Indeed, until the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers meet at the Superdome on Sunday, much of the emphasis in the days leading up to the event has very little to do with the game.
Lil Wayne is throwing a major bash in his hometown, Jay-Z is holding court at another event the evening before his wife, Beyonce, performs at halftime, and Jamie Foxx is due to give a private concert — and that's just the lineup for Saturday.
Director Michael Bay is holding court at a private estate for a celebrity dinner for charity. Santigold, Solange and producer/DJ Diplo will perform at Audi's two parties during the weekend, and both Playboy and Maxim are planning blowout parties with their trademark models.
"I've never seen anything like this," said Gary Solomon Jr., co-founder of Solomon Group, the local company hired to help set up the stages and lighting for the outdoor concerts and broadcasting areas in the French Quarter and near the Superdome.
"When you look at the master calendar of all the events, it's pretty daunting," he said. "This Super Bowl is like having 30 events in the same weekend."
Perhaps the most hotly anticipated event features Timberlake. He will perform during "DIRECTV Super Saturday Night," an invitation-only concert that will also feature Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson of The Roots as DJ. Questlove is a friend of Timberlake's who served as DJ at the pop star's wedding to Jessica Biel in October.
Questlove said he's honored that he was asked to DJ Timberlake's return to the stage on Super Bowl weekend. Timberlake is expected to perform his new single, "Suit & Tie," which features Jay-Z, and other tracks from his upcoming album, "The 20/20 Experience."
"The album is incredible," Questlove said. "I'm a huge supporter, and I'm there to make sure the audience has a good time."
Jay-Z and Beyonce have been spotted in New Orleans, and many are wondering whether Jay-Z — who is hosting a party elsewhere that night — will be taking the stage with Timberlake.
"Mum's the word," Questlove said. "All that is under wraps."
Stevie Wonder is also performing Saturday night. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legend, whose classic hit "Superstition" will be featured in two of this year's Bud Light Super Bowl commercials, is headlining an outdoor concert. Rising guitarist Gary Clark Jr. is also scheduled to perform.
Besides the Timberlake concert, Questlove is performing with The Roots at three Super Bowl parties, including the 49ers after-game party — "or funeral, depending on the outcome of the game," he said with a laugh.