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Every year, on the first or second Sunday of February, people across the nation sit in front of their TV screens with loved ones and a basket of wings to watch the Super Bowl. Some football fans are expert party planners and others show off their cooking skills for the long-awaited event.
Like all households, my family watches the Super Bowl and throws parties every other year or so. My father and brother are the sports enthusiasts of the family. As for the rest of us, we tune in to the Super Bowl for one thing only: the halftime show.
There’s something unexplainable about the anticipation of discovering the headlining act, brushing off their discography, and waiting through the first two-quarters of the game to see the artist perform their best hits.
During the 2020 lockdown, my sisters and I went down a YouTube rabbit hole and watched the Superbowl halftime shows of the past decade. From this deep dive, we crafted a list of the best performances.
Prince, Super Bowl XLI (2007)
His Royal Badness himself performed one of the most laid-back half-time shows of later years and still showed out, even in the rain and a black headscarf. Although I don’t remember watching it live because I was pretty young then, I wish that I did.
Beyonce, Super Bowl XLVII (2013)
Beyonce’s Super Bowl halftime show is one of the first performances I remember watching as it aired. She is a brilliant performer and even invited her former bandmates, Kelly Rowland and Michelle Williams onstage with her.
Katy Perry, Super Bowl XLIX (2015)
Katy Perry’s performance birthed the unforgettable Left Shark meme, which was the talk of the town at my middle school for weeks on end. Each song Perry performed was sung at top volume by my sisters and me when it aired and when we rewatched it.
Jennifer Lopez & Shakira, Super Bowl LIV (2020)
Jennifer Lopez reminded the nation that she is a dancer. She and Shakira wiped the floor clean with their choreography. I’m not sure what I wouldn’t give to have seen the performance live!
Lady Gaga, Super Bowl LI (2017)
"The Queen of the Monsters" never fails to disappoint. She understood the assignment, turned it in, and came out with an A+. The best moment of Gaga’s halftime show was “Born This Way” and falling from the top of the building.
Bruno Mars, Super Bowl XLVIII (2014)
Like the other artists on this list, Bruno Mars is an excellent performer. It was fun to see how Mars’ musical style has changed over the years, from a doo-wop-inspired singer to an R&B pariah.
Mary J. Blige, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, & Kendrick Lamar, Super Bowl LVI (2022)
Some of the best halftime shows are those that include many acts. During this past Super Bowl, each performer took the nation on a blast from the past.
Coldplay, Bruno Mars, & Beyonce, Super Bowl 50 (2016)
Coldplay was a great opener for Bruno Mars and Beyonce. The set was colorful, fun, and engaging. When Beyonce is featured, how can I not include her? She and Bruno Mars brought the house down for an incredible performance that couldn’t be missed.
It shouldn't be too much longer until we find out who will headline Super Bowl LVII. Until then, my sisters and I will be patiently waiting.
— Eden Turner, intern at Savannah Morning News
Pulse of the 912
Coach Anita Howard is all about knowing your worth and being yourself. With every game she coaches, she's imparting the same lessons on her team of women. I chat with her about being the first female, African American head coach of Georgia Southern's women's basketball team, the Sun Belt Tournament and the timelessness of Too Short's "Blow the Whistle."
Laura Nwogu: This is your third season as head coach for Georgia Southern’s women’s basketball team. In sports terms, how would you describe the journey so far?
Anita Howard: “It’s been a joy, actually. When I first got here, we were dead last in the conference. Hadn't won two conference games, and so we doubled the win percentage in the second year and now we've had the most wins since, I think, 2009. So, we're making huge strides rather quickly, and so I'm really pleased with the journey thus far.”
LN: That’s great to hear, especially because you guys had to play fewer games because of COVID in the past year.
AH: “Yeah. We could have probably made even larger strides last year, but, of course, with the pandemic. Not even just last year. We had some issues with COVID this year as well where we weren't able to play two of our games. And so, with fewer games, we're still rocking and rolling. Luckily, our ladies have kind of just pushed through, persevered and we're literally changing the program around.”
LN: And when you were hired, you become the first African American female head coach of the GSU women's basketball team. What did it mean for you to be taking up that mantle that no Black female coach had ever taken before?
AH: “I have done that at my two previous institutions, and so it wasn't something that was new to me, but it’s definitely an honor. I'm always honored when I can be the ‘first’ anything. To be the first African American female here, of course, in the South and good old Statesboro — one, it meant a lot. I felt like Georgia Southern was willing to take a chance. With everything that's going on in the world today, to bring in an African American female was huge strides.
"It was kind of a coming home for me. I am an alum, and so that was always something good, but it’s bigger than me. One of the things that I always said, it opens doors. You know, we have a lot of African American young ladies who play basketball and so representation matters. For them to see me able to do it, it's good for them to see.”
LN: You mentioned being an alum. I'm curious, how has the game evolved or changed from when you were playing at Fort Valley or Armstrong State?
AH: “(laughs) They’re paying athletes now! They get cost of attendance. Name, image, likeness. Now you're able to get paid for your, I guess, celebrity-ism a little bit. Not much has changed as far as me as a coach. As a player coming up, I loved defense. As a coach, I'm a defensive coach. And so, the X's and O's haven't changed that much for me, but just the things that are allowed, that the student-athletes are able to get now. The NCAA has made huge strides, especially for women's basketball. The tournament, the respect, the equality that women's basketball is receiving now has been a huge change since I played.”
LN: You’re teaching these women valuable lessons that they'll keep forever. What's the biggest lesson that you try to impart on anyone you've coached?
AH: “I always say, know your worth. As a woman in a male-dominated industry, even with that woman athlete playing, male athletes get more marketing, more branding attention, coaches get paid more than women. And so, I always tell them to know your worth, don't settle. And that's just not with basketball. That's in life. That's in relationships.”
LN: I love that. And in the same respect, what's the biggest lesson you've learned about yourself throughout the years?
AH: “Outside of knowing my worth, is being myself. I know it sounds really cliche, but I remember coming up and trying to be who I thought athletic directors wanted me to be or coaches wanted me to be. What I realized is that, if you're always yourself, you don't ever have to fake nothing. You can genuinely be you because you're your best version of yourself. God makes only one you, and so be that best version of yourself.”
AH: “It is a win-or-go-home mentality. All season, we've been talking about just being 1-0 each game anyway. And so, that mentality is not going to change. We have to mentally prepare to, one, just persevere. We just had a 21-hour debacle at the airport in Louisiana. Being able to persevere through the road, the travel. But, you know, it’s tournament time. It’s survive and advance. Seeding means nothing.
"Although we're the seventh seed coming in and Georgia State is the 10th seed, if they score more points than us, it doesn't matter. And so, it’s that mentality of surviving and advance. Taking our show on the road, we've been luckily winning this year, so we know what that feels like. We're just going to try to keep things the same, not really complicate nothing.”
LN: Shifting toward more fun questions, I read that your favorite movie is “Love & Basketball,” which is a great favorite movie (laughs). And a goal of yours is to act in a movie. If you could pick any role that you'd want to play, what would it be?
AH: “Oh, that is a great question. First, I love true stories. So, if I could be an actress and be somebody that's representing somebody, maybe like Rosa Parks or something, I want to play in a role that's meaningful. And then kind of on the flip side — a fun side — I want to be like the female version of ‘Godfather.’ I want to be something that's a boss lady (laughs).”
LN: Both of those are go-big-or-go-home roles, and I love it.
Favorite hype song? Whether it's the teams' favorite song in the locker room or your favorite hype song to get them motivated.
AH: “Well, I actually get hype off of gospel, so that's kind of just my personal preference. But if you want to see coach Howard turn up a little bit, it has to be probably ‘Blow the Whistle’ by Too Short (laughs).”
LN: (laughs) That'll do it every time.
AH: “Being a coach, when I'm mad, my team, they know to put that song on. The coaches start blowing their whistles and we just have a good old time.”
LN: And are there any memorable game moments for you? Whether it was one that you played yourself or one you've coached?
AH: “When I coached my first championship as a coach because I have won championships as a player. My first championship, I actually saved one of my players. She was from the inner city of Chicago, a first-time graduate from her family, and she just didn't think she was going to make it. She was a two-time back-to-back player of the year and helped me win my first college championship. And I remember going up the ladder and cutting down the net. It’s like I can remember like it was yesterday. It was my first championship, and she was at the bottom of the ladder waiting for me to come down. It's like we did this together.”
LN: That sounds like a great moment.
And why do you love the 912?
AH: “It’s C-Port! (laughs) I love the C-Port. I always say, be you. Savannah is Savannah. It's historic, people want to be there and travel there, but the Savannahians — the seaport assassins as we like to call them — they're them. They're so warm and welcoming. The city is so beautiful and welcoming. I love the South. It’s close to the beach. There's nothing I can find wrong, except for the Sand Gnats. I don't like the Sand Gnats, but that is a part of Savannah. I like how warm and inviting Savannah is because you get everything in Savannah.”
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
Art of The 912
The 912 newsletter will highlight a local Black artist every two months as the header image for the weekly issue. This month's artist is Calvin Woodum.
Stories of the 912
On paper, the Beach High School boys basketball team entered the state playoffs with a 13-8 record, as a No. 4 seed that would have to make its entire run on the road.
An outside observer might think the Bulldogs didn't stand a chance. But Bulldogs coach Simon Heyward, in his fourth year at the helm, knows what his team is made of.
Bryan County High School boys basketball coach Brent Anderson was asked if it would be fair to classify his team as an undersized group of overachievers. Anderson thought for a moment and said, “I think that would be right.”
The Savannah basketball community is a tight-knit group that takes pride in the hoops history of the Hostess City.
On Saturday, local teams took their game to the next level with big-time playoff performances.
The James Beard Foundation announced on Feb. 22 that The Grey's executive chef and managing partner Mashama Bailey is a 2022 semifinalist for its coveted restaurant and chef awards.
Controversial Nobel Prize-winning French author Andre Gide said, “Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better.” Nowhere is such a creative partnership more evident than in the work of self-proclaimed “Abstract Spiritualist” Toni Hazel.
This article originally appeared on Savannah Morning News: The 912: We ballin' like the March Madness