Usher and JSU’s Sonic Boom of the South Marching Band wow fans during the Apple Music Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show

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Jackson State University's Sonic Boom of the South Marching Band delivers an captivating halftime performance alongside singer, songwriter, dancer, actor and producer Usher during the Apple Music Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show at the 2024 Super Bowl in Las Vegas, Nevada. (William H. Kelly III/JSU University Communications)

By Rachel James-Terry

Jackson Advocate Guest Writer

Jackson State University’s Sonic Boom of the South Marching Band made a special appearance with eight-time Grammy-winning artist Usher during the Apple Music Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The Boom showed television viewers and football fans in Allegiant Stadium why they are known as the “Summa Cum Laude of Bands,” making the most of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. 

“It feels surreal. It’s not every day you are invited to participate in such a monumental moment. The reality of the situation did not hit us until we began rehearsals in Vegas,” shares Roderick Little, Ph.D., director of bands at JSU. “I cannot think of anything more exciting or rewarding than walking onto the field, hearing the roar of the Super Bowl crowd, and immersing ourselves in the spirit that Usher brought to his performance.”

Little says he was met with jaw-drops and wide-eyed faces when he informed the band students that they would participate in the halftime show. “They deserve this adventure and have worked hard to be here. I am also proud that I could fulfill two of my strategic goals for our band program: provide life-changing experiences for our students and place our program on one of the most visible national stages in this country. It does not get any bigger than the Super Bowl.”

The band’s appearance at the bowl started with a conversation between JSU alum Cortez Bryant and his friend Jesse Collins, executive producer of the halftime show.

“He hit me and asked if I knew of any HBCU bands. Of course, Jackson State’s Sonic Boom is the best band in the land. Without a doubt, they were going to receive my recommendation,” says Bryant, also a Sonic Boom alum and Co-CEO of Blueprint Group/Maverick. The rest is Jackson State University history. 

This is the fifth year the Roc Nation has executive produced the halftime show. 

The Sonic Boom set the stage for Jackson State University to continue to elevate the institution by highlighting the campus culture and student experience. President Marcus L. Thompson, Ph.D., says the performance reiterates the institution’s reputation as a global research institution where students excel in and out of the classroom.

“I am extremely proud of our students’ performance tonight with Usher, and the precision and musicality they brought to one of America’s biggest celebrations of sport was unparalleled,” says Thompson. “When you realize that these student artists hail from various parts of the country and are studying a variety of majors, including biology, political science, and communications, you can appreciate the level of hard work and perseverance that went into this show. Special thanks to Roc Nation and the NFL for making this historic moment possible.”

Also performing from Jackson was Usher’s saxophonist Michael Burton, a Murrah High School alum.

Up next for the Boom: 

The 136th Tournament of Roses

Jackson State University’s Sonic Boom of the South and the Prancing J-Settes have been invited to participate in the 136th Tournament of Roses Parade presented by Honda on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2025, in Pasadena, California. 

Recognizing the significance of this venture, JSU has launched “Thee Road to Roses” fundraising campaign calling on the generosity of supporters, friends, fans, and alumni to help the Boom seize the monumental moment and perform on yet another national stage. 

With a fundraising goal of $800,000, JSU is committed to ensuring students experience this cherished opportunity. Celebrate the Sonic Boom’s legacy by supporting their presence at this prestigious event and bolster the rich history of Jackson State University and HBCU marching band culture by donating at 

The Rose Parade is an iconic New Year’s Day tradition followed by the Rose Bowl, one of the oldest celebrated college football contests. In the past, the parade has seen an estimated 700,000 to 1 million attendees.

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Usher and JSU’s Sonic Boom of the South Marching Band wow fans during the Apple Music Super Bowl LVIII Halftime Show

By Jackson Advocate News Service
February 26, 2024