Two of the performers are deaf for the first time.
Warren “Wawa” Snipe and Sean Forbes, both deaf, have been added to Dr. Dre’s Sunday roster, which also includes Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar.
As the superstars perform on stage in an inclusive and accessible show, Wawa and Forbes will utilize their hands, bodies, and facial expressions to present unique versions of the songs in American Sign Language.
“The opportunity to be here at the Super Bowl is just unreal,” Forbes said from Los Angeles in an interview with The Associated Press this week. “I never in a million years dream of, imagined, ever being here. As a performer, this is about as high as it gets. It’s the biggest stage in the world.
“To be here, to represent the deaf community, and to really put ASL on the map.”
Deaf culture and ASL have increasingly become mainstream, showing that men and woman who have hearing loss can let their talent shine if provided with opportunities. Earlier this week, two films with deaf actors earned Oscar nominations.
“CODA,” a drama that follows the child of deaf adults, is nominated for best picture and best adapted screenplay. Troy Kotsur became the second deaf actor nominated for an Oscar, joining co-star Marlee Matlin, who won best actress for her performance in the 1987 film “Children of a Lesser God.”
“Audible,” a documentary short focused on a football team at the Maryland School for the Deaf, also earned a nomination.
“The 21st century, we’re starting to be seen,” Snipe told the AP through an interpreter. “Many doors are opening throughout our community. Many people are seeing what our talented deaf people can do as actors, musicians, producers, directors, writers, artists in general.
“We are here and we are ready. We’ve been here and we’ve been knocking on that door for a long, long time, trying to gain this access.”
Snipe is making a return engagement to the NFL’s annual showcase. He signed the national anthem and “America the Beautiful,” before last year’s game alongside Jazmine Sullivan and Eric Church.
“It’s different and it’s historic,” said the 51-year-old Snipe, who is from Virginia. “This has never happened before, where deaf people actually sign. Now is the time. I hope that this is a door open and it continues to be open for the halftime show from this point. We need that.”
NBC’s broadcast is expected to show glimpses of the Snipe and Forbes, whose entire performance will be available on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
“It’s time,” Forbes said. “The deaf community has worked so hard. ASL is such a beautiful and rich language. I’ve been in this business for 16 years, and to see like how we’ve come with all of this, it has just been incredible.”