Backstreet Boys, Ray Charles Super Bowl XXXV entertainment lineup

Backstreet Boys, Ray Charles Super Bowl XXXV entertainment lineup

The NFL will celebrate America’s 225th birthday in Super Bowl XXXV pre-game ceremonies as one of the world’s top groups Backstreet Boys will perform the National Anthem and recording legend, Ray Charles, will sing “America The Beautiful,” at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Sunday, January 28, 2001, the National Football League announced today.

It will mark the first time the two songs will be performed prior to the start of the game. Charles will open the ceremony and Backstreet Boys will follow with its rendition of the national anthem. Tampa’s Tom Cooney will sign the national anthem.

Rickey Minor, who produced the sound track of Whitney Houston’s popular Super Bowl version 10 years ago in Tampa, will create the track for the Backstreet Boys rendition.

In addition to the musical performances, the Air Force will provide a B-2 that will circle the stadium throughout the first song. The Air Force’s elite “Thunderbirds” will then fly over the stadium at the conclusion of the national anthem. On the field, a joint services color guard will present the official flag, while the field will be virtually covered with other red, white and blue symbols.

“The Backstreet Boys and Ray Charles’ popularity and great musical talents are recognized across the country and around the world,” said NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue. “We are pleased they will be part of our Super Bowl XXXV entertainment lineup.”

CBS will televise Super Bowl XXXV live, including the national anthem. Game time is 6 p.m. ET.

Presently recognized as the biggest pop group in the world, Backstreet Boys have sold more than 55 million albums in less than three years. The group’s new album and fourth release, Black & Blue, sold more than five million copies worldwide in its initial week, setting a new first-week record in international sales. Globally, Black & Blue whose 13-song selection features five songs co-written by members of the group, plus two songs solely penned by all five Backstreet Boys achieved platinum status in 22 countries and gold certification in 10 regions around the world during its first week of release.

At the same time, in the U.S., Backstreet Boys Nick Carter, Howie Dorough, Brian Littrell, AJ McLean and Kevin Richardson set a precedent by becoming the first group in SoundScan History ever to achieve million-plus first-week sales with back to back albums. This follows 1999’s Millennium album, which moved more than 1,134,000 copies in its opening week. Backstreet Boys will add its name to the Super Bowl national anthem list that includes: Diana Ross; Barry Manilow; Neil Diamond; Billy Joel; Whitney Houston; Harry Connick, Jr.; Garth Brooks; Natalie Cole; Vanessa Williams; Luther Vandross; Jewel; Cher and last year’s anthem singer, Faith Hill.

Few artists merit the title of legend. However, in the case of Ray Charles, the moniker is well deserved. An international phenomenon, Charles, who has a star on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame, has earned 13 Grammys, several gold records and the Kennedy Center Award. He is a member of three Hall of Fames (Rhythm and Blues, Jazz and Rock & Roll).

Charles has taken virtually every form of popular music and broken through its boundaries with such awe-inspiring achievements as Genius Plus Soul Equals Jazz and Modern Sounds in Country and Western.

Rhythm and blues became universally respectable through his efforts. Jazz found a mainstream audience it had never previously enjoyed and country and western music began to chart an unexpected course to general acceptance, then worldwide popularity. Along the way, Ray Charles was instrumental in the invention of rock and roll.

Music has always been the driving force in Charles’ life. It catapulted a poor, blind, orphaned teenager from rags to riches.

By the early 1960s, Charles had accomplished his dream. He had come of age musically. He had become a great musician, posting musical milestones along the way. Against seemingly insurmountable odds, Charles made it to Carnegie Hall.

The hit records (Georgia, and Born to Lose) successively climbed the charts. He made his first triumphant European concert tour in 1960 and with the exception of 1965, has continued to tour Europe every year since.

In the past decade, Charles has taken on George Gershwin (“Porgy and Bess”), Rodgers and Hammerstein (“Some Enchanted Evening,” “Oh What a Beautiful Morning”) and “America the Beautiful” all with resounding, if unexpected, success.

Charles started out from nowhere and years later, finds himself a global entity. His amazing story and remarkable talents make him an icon of the human spirit. Years after overcoming incredible odds, Ray Charles remains an entertainment legend.

Minor is the music man behind Whitney Houston. “This young man keeps it all together for me. He is the best musical director, I think, in the world,” said Houston. The African-American Minor grew up in the projects in Watts and raised by his grandmother, in a two-bedroom apartment that housed 13 people. He’s become a bassist, music director, composer and producer. He produced the biggest selling version of “The Star Spangled Banner” ever in Houston’s 1991 Super Bowl performance in Tampa.

The Monroe, Louisiana born musician has played behind the Four Tops, Gladys Knight, Lou Rawls and Al Jarreau and he has worked with Al Green, Shirley Caesar, CeCe Winans, Smokey Robinson, Brandy, Salt-N-Pepa, Paula Abdul and Michael Bolton.

Cooney, 65, has been interpreting the national anthem for 38 years in various stadiums and arenas around the country. A member of the deaf sports hall of fame, Cooney has taught many celebrities and sports stars basic sign language, including four U.S. Presidents. He also has taught school children for the past 16 years.

Cooney, who became deaf as the age of nine months and spent the first seven years of his life in a wheelchair, has been honored for his hard work and dedication. He was named one of President Bush’s Thousand Points of Light and he has also won the Jefferson Award and the Nobel Prize of Community Service.