Beyonce just 1 of many stars at Super Bowl

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


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


”The album is incredible,” Questlove said. ”I’m a huge

supporter, and I’m there to make sure the audience has a good


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


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.

OneRepublic and Matchbox Twenty will perform as part of the

Super Bowl pregame show.

Much of the entertainment kicks off Friday. VH1 is hosting a

concert headlined by rock band Train while Grammy-winning R&B

singer Fantasia leads a pack of Christian and gospel singers for

the NFL’s Super Bowl Gospel Celebration. Baltimore Ravens star Ray

Lewis is being honored with a ”Lifetime of Inspiration” award

during the event, which will be hosted by Sherri Shepherd of ABC’s

”The View” and Grammy-winning gospel musician Kirk Franklin.

The gospel celebration will also include a performance by the

NFL Players Choir of dozens of current and former professional

football players and a performance by Lecrae, the Christian rapper

NFL players have named this year’s ”Player’s Choice” artist.

”It’s a definite honor, really to even be considered but on top

of that to be requested by the players. It’s really humbling,”

said Lecrae.

Miami rapper Pitbull has two scheduled appearances this weekend:

Friday night he’s performing at an invitation-only party by Rolling

Stone with rapper Flo Rida and Nick Cannon. On Saturday, he

performs for the general public during DIRECTV’s ”Celebrity Beach

Bowl,” a star-studded flag football match that will include Snoop

Dogg, Neil Patrick Harris, Chace Crawford, Josh Hutcherson and

former NFL players Deion Sanders and Warren Moon.

Also Saturday, CMT is hosting a ”Crossroads” concert with

headliners Journey and Rascal Flatts.

Though many of the star-studded concerts will have limited

access or are by invitation only, dozens of local artists will be

performing throughout the weekend on stages set up along the

Mississippi River and in the NFL Experience at the Ernest N. Morial

Convention Center. Many downtown streets are being closed to

traffic to allow more pedestrian access in the main entertainment

areas – the French Quarter, riverfront and near the Superdome.

”It’s great that it’s back here. There’s a rich tradition here

in New Orleans of just having a great time,” CeeLo said. ”The

atmosphere in New Orleans is always upbeat.”

AP Writer Jonathan Landrum Jr. contributed to this report from