2021’s Super Bowl LV Halftime show headliner is Grammy-winning recording artist The Weeknd. While The Weeknd is an A-list celebrity in the music industry, if you’ve never heard of him before his halftime performance, you may be wondering not only about his music, but about his name.
Although The Weeknd is the stage name he goes by as an artist, The Weeknd’s real name is Abel Makkonen Tesfaye.
The Weeknd Is Of Ethiopian Descent & Grew Up in Canada
The Weeknd, aka Abel Makkonen Tesfaye, is of Ethiopian heritage. According to LA Live, Tesfaye’s parents immigrated to Canada from Ethiopia in the 1980s.
The Weeknd was born and raised in Toronto, Canada. According to National Post, he will be the first Canadian singer in almost two decades to headline the Super Bowl halftime show; Shania Twain performed in 2003.
In an interview with Pitchfork, “My mother, my grandmother, my uncles would play Ethiopian artists like Aster Aweke and Mulatu Astatke all the time in the house… That’s why I feel like my singing is not conventional. The feeling in my music and in my voice is very Ethiopian and very African and much more powerful than anything, technically. There are songs like ‘Gone’ where I don’t even know what I’m saying—I let my voice do all the talking. I’ll probably do an album like that one day where it’s not lyrics at all, just melodies and great production. Maybe the next one, I don’t know. That’s the Ethiopian side of me.”
The Weeknd revealed to Pitchfork that he speaks Amharic, the native language of Ethiopia. He said, “Ethiopian poetry is a different language. I can speak and understand [Amharic], but I can’t understand their poetry. When my mother would translate—it’s the most beautiful thing ever.”
The Weeknd Halftime Show Preview
The Weeknd has not revealed what songs he will perform during the Super Bowl halftime show, but we’re likely to hear some of his biggest hits, such as “Can’t Feel My Face,” “Starboy,” and “In Your Eyes.” The Weeknd’s song “Blinding Lights” became a viral dance song on TikTok, so expect that 2020 anthem to have its moment during the show.
While Super Bowl halftime shows often feature surprise guest performances, The Weeknd says not to expect any special cameos during his set. In an interview with NFL Network, The Weeknd said, “I’ve been reading a lot of rumors. There wasn’t any room to fit it in the narrative and the story I was telling in the performance. So there’s no special guests, no.”
The Weeknd has not revealed what his narrative will be, but he is known for fully committing to story-telling in music videos, performances, and public appearances. After appearing in fake bloody bandages for a year, he debuted a full prosthetic face full of fake plastic surgery in his “Save Your Tears” music video. It’s possible that he will incorporate at least some of those elements into his Super Bowl performance.
The Super Bowl Halftime Show, starring The Weeknd, is presented by Pepsi. Although Pepsi is presenting the highly-anticipated performance, they are not airing a Super Bowl commercial this year.