Jackson State photographer William Kelly’s Super Bowl phots garner national spotlight

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William Kelly III (Photo: Charles A. Smith/ Jackson State University

By now, everyone should know the Jackson State University “Sonic Boom of the South” performed with Usher at Super Bowl LVIII  in Las Vegas. However, another hidden figure has emerged. JSU photographer William Kelly III’s photos have garnered the attention of national and international publications.

Kelly says, “When I got the call from JSU director of public relations, Rachel James-Terry, that I would be a part of the JSU entourage to accompany the band to Super Bowl LVIII, I was speechless; it was mind boggling!”

Kelly, a 27-year-old Jackson State University alumni (2019), is a native of Houston, Texas, and the son of Sonya Siverand and William Kelly Jr. He has worked in the JSU Division of Marketing and Communications for the past four years, utilizing his skill set in multimedia journalism and art.

When asked how he became interested in photography, Kelly said, “I guess it started with a picture that my mom took of me with a toy camera in my hand when I was about four years old.  She also brought me my first camera as a young adult.”

As a part of the Jackson State University traveling group to the Super Bowl, they spent two days in Las Vegas and Kelly had access to get the behind-the-scene pictures and closeups of the band during their historic performance that would be featured in Forbes, Essence, ESPN, and other media outlets, including the Jackson Advocate.  

According to Kelly, “I can’t tell you just how proud and grateful I am to have had the opportunity to show the world that a HBCU is capable and prepared to perform on a stage as big as the Super Bowl in a place like Allegiant Stadium. You just don’t realize the places God can put you in and the opportunities that can spring forth as a result.  

“Jackson State University’s band had built a reputation of excellence that is undeniable and now the world has seen what an HBCU can produce and the professionalism that is on display.”

Kelly said he is grateful that JSU prepared him academically and developmentally to use his photography skills to produce the quality photos that magazines of international statue would want to publish.

“I especially want to thank the 2021 partnership that has been formed with Getty Images Photo Archives Grant Program that will expand the reach of HBCUs and JSU as an institution that shines not only in Jackson, Mississippi, but to the world at large. JSU and I have a lot more to accomplish in the future. I am so grateful and thankful to my friends, professors, and family for all the support they have given me.”

The photos that Kelly took have gone viral and are the property of JSU and  Getty Images, but he as the photographer has access to utilize them as well on behalf of the university.

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Jackson State photographer William Kelly’s Super Bowl phots garner national spotlight

By Brinda Fuller Willis
March 11, 2024