Centennial Olympic Park was full of lights Saturday, the opening night of Super Bowl Live. The fan village will feature concerts and other attractions all week, leading up to the Big Game. Atlanta rapper Pastor Troy and headliner The S.O.S. Band kicked things off. Admission is free to Super Bowl Live, which will be open daily through Feb. 2, except for Tuesday and Wednesday. RYON HORNE / RHORNE@AJC.COM

Super Bowl 53: Super Bowl Live kicked off with the sleek R&B of The S.O.S. Band

Atlanta’s Jermaine Dupri booked the week of free shows at Centennial Olympic Park

A few minutes after rapper Pastor Troy finished his set with “We Ready (I Declare War),” from his 1999 debut of the same name, Jermaine Dupri spared a few minutes from his viewing area about 20 yards from the stage to talk about Saturday’s opening night headliners – The S.O.S. Band.

Dupri, the mega-producer with proud Atlanta roots, was tapped to stack the six nights of free concerts in Centennial Olympic Park - dubbed Super Bowl Live – with Georgia artists representing hip-hop, rock, country and EDM.

Atlanta favorite Pastor Troy –who was joined on the Verizon Up stage throughout his 45-minute set by Fabo, the energetic Trillville and the jaw-dropping Tear it Up dance squad – hyped the crowd appropriately for the sleek R&B of The S.O.S. Band and Dupri couldn’t have been happier.

For him, booking the longtime Atlanta outfit – which is celebrating its 40th anniversary – is a full circle moment since his father used to work for the band (as well as Brick, Cameo and Peabo Bryson) as a road and stage manager.

Centennial Olympic Park was full of lights Saturday, the opening night of Super Bowl Live. The fan village will feature concerts and other attractions all week, leading up to the Big Game. Atlanta rapper Pastor Troy and headliner The S.O.S. Band kicked things off. Admission is free to Super Bowl Live, which will be open daily through Feb. 2, except for Tuesday and Wednesday. RYON HORNE / RHORNE@AJC.COM

“I’ve been knowing S.O.S. since I was 5 or 6 years old,” Dupri said. “I was influenced by their music, by Cameo, by Brick…when I got the opportunity to do this (Super Bowl series), I wanted to make sure people understood there was an Atlanta scene that motivated me before I was doing what I was doing.”

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The eight-piece S.O.S. crew, fronted by singer Mary Davis and trumpeter Abdul Ra'oof, did not disappoint as they blended coordinated dance moves, sharp attire – fedoras and long wool coats for the men – and creamy hits including “S.O.S. (Dit Dit Dit Dash Dash Dash Dit Dit Dit)" and “Just the Way You Like It” for a giddy crowd of a thousand or so.

Of course, their Top 5 hit from 1983, “Just Be Good to Me,” incited a singalong from even casual fans, who barely put down their phones from filming long enough to mouth some words.

The Super Bowl Live area encompasses all of Centennial Olympic Park and includes food stations; a second, smaller stage featuring a DJ spinning familiar songs; a 35-foot interactive replica of the Lombardi trophy; and a spot specified for family carnival-styled games.  

Jermaine Dupri talked to the press about the week of free concerts he curated that are taking place at Centennial Olympic Park. RYON HORNE/RHORNE@AJC.COM

Earlier on Saturday, Dupri chatted about his role curating the week of concerts.

Sporting a red Atlanta Falcons jacket and a baseball cap bearing the logo of his So So Def record label, Dupri said it “feels pretty exciting” to see the result of his months of work taking place in the park.

>>Check out our photo gallery from opening night of Super Bowl Live

He also elaborated on the process of choosing the genre-ranging artists to fill out six nights of shows.

“I’m guessing everybody would have thought I’d put my artists (from So So Def) on the thing. I wanted to make sure I shared this experience with all of Georgia,” he said. “I think a lot of people weren’t paying attention to the fact that all of the artists - country, EDM, R&B – I did all of that. There were a lot of artists I felt should be here. There are a lot of artists who (always get the) spotlight, so I felt like spotlighting some of the ones who don’t get that light.”

While Dupri, who is set to perform his hometown anthem, “Welcome to Atlanta,” on Monday night, wouldn’t give any hints as to the surprise guests he has lined up for Monday and Saturday, he did share one goal.

“I want to make sure people leave feeling like Atlanta is finally here.”


The Super Bowl Live schedule

Sunday 1/27 – Country

1:30 p.m.: Sunday Gospel Brunch, Players Gospel Choir

2:30 p.m.: REMakes

4 p.m.: Jack Michael

5 p.m. Lyn Avenue

6 p.m.: Seckond Chaynce

Monday 1/28 – Hip Hop/R&B

5 p.m.: Ayanis

6:30 p.m.: 5am

7 p.m.: Goodie Mob

8 p.m.: DJ Holiday & Friends

o YFN Lucci, Waka Flocka, Trinidad James, DJ Unk, Travis Porter, 1playy, Young Dro, Derez Deshawn, Fly, Coca Vango, Light Skin Keisha, F.L.Y., Scrappy

Thursday 1/31 – Country & Rock

5 p.m.: Josh Bricker

6 p.m.: Tyler Tritt

7 p.m.: Hero the Band

8:30 p.m.: Craig Campbell

Friday 2/1 – Pop & EDM 

3 p.m.: Super Bowl LIVE Happy Hour, Seed & Feed Marching Band

5 p.m.: Leah Culver

6 p.m.: The Jacks

7 p.m.: Hearty Har

8 p.m.: Heroes X Villians

9 p.m.: ATLiens

Saturday 2/2 – Hip Hop

11:30 a.m.: “Around the NFL” (NFL Podcast)

12:30 p.m.: Georgia Tech Pep Band

1 p.m.: Team (TBD) Fan Rally

2:15 p.m.: Georgia Tech Drum Line

3 p.m. Team (TBD) Fan Rally

5 p.m.: Kelechi

7 p.m.: Monica

8 p.m.: DJ Smurf & So So Def All-Stars: MC Shy D, Raheem the Dream, Kilo Ali, Playa Poncho, Deuce, DJ Kizzy Rock, KP & Envyi, DJ Taz, Freak Nasty, 12 Gauge, Tag Team, Ghost Town DJ’s, Lathun

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About the Author

Melissa Ruggieri
Melissa Ruggieri
Atlanta Journal-Constitution staff writer Melissa Ruggieri covers music and entertainment news for the AJC. She remembers when MTV was awesome.  
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