Who Are Sean Forbes and Warren Snipe? Deaf Rappers Make Halftime Show History Using ASL
Who are the American sign language interpreters who will perform at the 2022 Super Bowl? The Super Bowl Halftime Show will make history this year as it includes ASL interpreters for the first time ever.
Deaf rappers Sean Forbes and Warren Snipe will share the stage with Halftime Show headliners Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige and Kendrick Lamar when they take over SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles on Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 13).
While this marks the first time that the Super Bowl will bring out deaf entertainers during the Halftime Show, many deaf talents have interpreted via ASL at the Super Bowl during renditions of the National Anthem in previous years.
Newsweek notes that Sandra Mae Frank will sign both the anthem and "America the Beautiful" at this year's event.
However, this marks the first time that the much-watched game will bring dip-hop (a term for "hip-hop embodied by deaf artists," according to Fast Company) to the main stage.
While Forbes and Snipe will be signing the performance, they are not solely acting as interpreters. Howard Rosenblum, CEO of the National Association of the Deaf, stressed that they are very much entertainers in their own right.
“Their goal is to make music accessible and visually appealing in ASL while synchronized with the musical performance as it happens,” he told Fast Company.
Fans will be able to follow along on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
You can get better acquainted with both historic performers below!
Who Is Sean Forbes?
Sean Forbes has more in common with Eminem than just a Super Bowl Halftime Show performance slot: Both hail from Detroit.
The 40-year-old seemingly has shared a connection with the rap titan over the years.
According to the Detroit Free Press, Forbes showed Eminem a video of himself performing "Lose Yourself" back in 2005.
Partly because of their history, he described the Super Bowl gig as "very much a full-circle moment" in an interview with the publication.
Forbes will reportedly be involved with Eminem and Snoop Dogg's portions of the show.
He has a very clear goal in mind for his time onstage: “My goal is to get out there, show what we can do, and have fun,” Forbes said. “And I want to open the door for other deaf performers."
Of course, his work extends beyond the Halftime Show.
Forbes has a music career of his own and was signed to Web Entertainment in 2010, according to TODAY.
More recently, he independently released an EP called Little Victories in 2020. You can check out his artist page on Spotify to give it a listen.
The artist also helped launch an organization called the Deaf Performing Arts Network, or DPAN for short. According to TODAY, the group strives to create music for the deaf and hard of hearing community while also providing educational resources.
Forbes expressed appreciation for Dr. Dre, Eminem and Snoop in an interview with the publication.
"Without Dre and Em, there wouldn’t be the Sean Forbes that many know today. They have both changed my life. Then, of course, Snoop.... Snoop is my man."
Who Is Warren Snipe?
This is not Warren "Wawa" Snipe's first time performing at a Super Bowl.
The 51-year-old went viral after signing the National Anthem and "America the Beautiful" at the 2021 game. His return is sure to be met with a warm welcome.
Watch him in action below:
In an interview with TODAY, Snipe explained the role he and Forbes will fill during the Halftime Show and how it differs from simply being an interpreter.
"The difference between a deaf performer and an interpreter is originality," he said. "A performer creates original artwork through their presentation, whereas an interpreter interprets from another person’s artwork. That’s the main thing but for this event, it’s a bit different. We’re kind of doing both but we’re given the freedom to embody these artists the best way possible."
Like Forbes, Snipe has also released his own music.
TODAY notes that he's been working on his craft since the mid-'90s; he actually helped come up with the dip-hop genre.
Snipe's debut album Deaf: So What? arrived in 2016. Two albums — UnApologetically__ and Wamilton — dropped in 2021. You can check out his music, released under the name Wawa's World, on Spotify.
That's not all, either. Snipe has also done some acting work. You may recognize him from a 2018 role in the TV series Black Lightning. His profile on IMDb lists projects dating back to 2005.
Snipe also shares a connection with his fellow Halftime Show performers.
“I ‘grew up’ with Dr. Dre, Snoop, Mary J Blige. What I mean by that is that we’re nearly the same age! I love their influence, their energy and their music,” he told TODAY.
What's his goal for the performance?
"To inspire up and coming artists to realize their dreams and to never give up!"
He also looked to the future of the Halftime Show in an interview with the Associated Press.
“This has never happened before, where deaf people actually sign. Now is the time," Snipe enthused. "I hope that this is a door open and it continues to be open for the halftime show from this point. We need that.”