Being selected to entertain the crowd and the huge worldwide audience for the Super Bowl has become almost as prestigious as playing in the National Football League's annual championship game. VOA Sports Editor Parke Brewer reports from Super Bowl 42, to be played Sunday in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, that this year's halftime music will feature American rock legends Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
In recent years, the halftime show has seen the likes of The Rolling Stones, Paul McCartney and Prince. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers are considered one of the America's great rock and roll bands and they are already members of Rock and Roll's Hall of Fame.
The group is still going strong after releasing its debut album back in 1976 and has sold more than 50 million records. And the band members took this occasion to announce they will tour the United States and Canada in the upcoming months.
Petty said it did not take long for he and his bandmates to say yes when they were invited to be the Super Bowl halftime musical performers.
"It's mind-blowing [awesome]," Petty said. "It's something that I never even dreamed of. It never crossed my mind, but it's very exciting. We've had quite a week already. It's really something."
Organizers say 56 carts of equipment must be hauled onto the field to put on the Super Bowl halftime show, and without some three thousand local volunteers, it could not be done.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers will get to play for 12 minutes. Petty said it was really hard to select what songs from the band's lengthy career to perform.
"We tried to pick the ones that would take you somewhere in that amount of time," he explained. "It's a little bit of a challenge and we've had to kind of rearrange some things, make some a little bit shorter to fit in. But I think we've chosen a good set."
It is also an honor to be the Super Bowl pre-game entertainment. Nine-time Grammy award-winning Rhythm and Blues singer Alicia Keys will sing before the big match-up between the undefeated New England Patriots and New York Giants.
She says she has given a lot of thought to her performance because of the diverse audience.
"It feels wonderful to be in your country and representing so many groups of people, all walks of life," Keys said. "And music goes along with that, so I think for like something that I'm going to do for the pre-show, I'm just basically going to take you by your neck (grab your attention) and demand that you watch me."
This year's National Anthem at the Super Bowl will be sung by Jordin Sparks, a native of Phoenix who currently lives in Glendale, where Sunday's game will be played. Last year at the age of 17 she became the youngest winner of the popular television show American Idol, and she has already released two albums.
Sparks said she is thrilled to have been selected to sing the anthem.
"I'm a huge, humungous football fan. So to be able to sing at the Super Bowl and I get to be at one. I've never been to a Super Bowl before so I am just like, it's a whole bunch of firsts for me," Sparks said.
Jordin's father, Phillippi Sparks, is a former NFL player for both the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants. She said she can now joke that while her Dad never made it to the Super Bowl in his career, she - as a teenager - already has.