Usher headlines group to help start NFL season with concert

Updated: August 29, 2008, 6:18 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Like the NFL teams beginning their new seasons, Usher is hoping to go all the way to the Super Bowl.

The R&B singer will perform the season's kickoff concert on Thursday in New York's Columbus Circle along with Keith Urban and Natasha Bedingfield. The 3 p.m. concert will be held just before the season opener, when the Washington Redskins take on the Super Bowl champion New York Giants.

Like the Redskins and Giants, Usher is aiming for the big game in February. The game might be the destination of all football players, it's also one of the most sought-after gigs in music.

"I don't think it's too early to consider it," said Usher, speaking from Atlanta. "Certainly being associated with the organization makes that a lot more possible. There have been conversations for a lot of years about me being part of a performance at a Super Bowl."

He added: "I'm hoping that this leads, definitely, to that. This whole process is basically you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours."

Usher feels that he's sufficiently built up his "brand" over the past decade -- it can sometimes be easy to forget that the 29-year-old singer has been around that long. Recent Super Bowl performers include Prince and Tom Petty.

Last year, Usher married Tameka Foster and the couple had a son, Usher Raymond V. The onset of family life has brought out a more mature side of Usher, whose 2008 album "Here I Stand" deals considerably with growing into adulthood.

At the kickoff concert, which will stream on NFL.com, Usher plans to perform "Here I Stand," "Changing Places" and "What's Your Name" with guest star will.i.am.

Usher, who spent much of a his childhood in Tennessee, counts himself a Titans fan, and vividly recalls being at the 1999 Super Bowl and watching the Titans' Kevin Dyson fall one yard short of the end zone as time expired.

An expert dancer, Usher gives props to Randy Moss and Terrell Owens' endzone dances, but says their moves still fall short of another.

"The greatest end zone dance of all time has to be Cuba Gooding Jr.," said Usher, referring to the actor's dance in "Jerry Maguire." "The greatest of all time."


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press