Last modified: Wednesday, February 8, 2012
Members of IU vocal groups Ladies First, Straight No Chaser sing backup during Super Bowl halftime show
Indiana University freshman Maddie Bass described her appearance on national television during Sunday's Super Bowl, backing up Madonna and Cee Lo Green during the halftime performance, as "the coolest thing I'll ever do."
Bass is a member of Ladies First, the university's a cappella female vocal group whose dozen members were part of a 200-member choir that took the stage during the elaborate halftime show, surrounding Madonna as she sang her iconic song, "Like a Prayer." Two members of the university's a cappella male vocal group, Straight No Chaser, also participated: Eddie Suarez and Ben Wertz.
Bass and Suarez said the IU musical groups were asked to participate by alumni who helped recruit singers for the event, but they were sworn to secrecy by organizers.
"It didn't really hit us until we walked onto the field, with thousands of people in the stadium looking at us, that we're on live television," Bass said. "I've never been to a Super Bowl, so I didn't realize how big it was." She paused, before adding with a chuckle, "And then I realized if I fall, the whole world will see me."
She said the entire choir rehearsed as a group several times leading up to their Super Bowl performance, and they also practiced with Madonna and Green several times at Lucas Oil Stadium before Sunday's game. The stars interacted easily with choir members, Bass said, offering greetings and high fives as well as suggestions. Suarez, a junior studying journalism, said the group spent hours rehearsing at the stadium in preparation for a brief moment in the national spotlight, highlighting the level of perfectionism necessary for such an event.
"It was really cool to see the backstage approach, to see how well everyone came together and performed this spectacular show," Suarez said. He said the "coolest experience" from the day was waiting in a tunnel at Lucas Oil Stadium, waiting to go onto the field, saying, "You're looking at all these flashing lights and thinking, 'Everybody in the world is here, and this is the biggest stage I'm ever going to perform on.'"
Bass, a freshman from Pittsburgh, is majoring in communication and culture. With a background in theater and music, she'd originally planned to become a musical theater major but later changed her career path. Participating in Ladies First is a way to stay close to her musical roots, she said.
Though choir members didn't get to keep the robes they wore during the performance, Bass said she did come away with one souvenir she won't part with: a plastic wristband bearing the simple phrase "Half-Time, February 5, 2012."
"I will never take this off," Bass said. "It's all just so unbelievable."