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Warren Snipe is a deaf rapper, actor and performer

By Eric Todisco
February 07, 2021 05:00 PM
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Warren Snipe, performer at Super Bowl
Warren Snipe
| Credit: Warren Snipe/Instagram

This year's Super Bowl pregame event will feature a special performance from Warren "Wawa" Snipe, a deaf rapper, actor and performer.

Before the kickoff of Super Bowl LV in Tampa on Sunday, Snipe, 50, will perform the national anthem and "America the Beautiful" in American Sign Language (ASL). The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) announced that Snipe would be performing at the event in a statement last month.

"I was very honored and humbled to be selected to perform these songs at the Super Bowl," said Snipe. "It was always my dream to perform at the Super Bowl, and I would love to be able to perform the halftime show in ASL too!"

Snipe told CBS News he and the other performers, including Eric Church and Jazmine Sullivan who will sing the national anthem as well as H.E.R. who is set to perform "America the Beautiful," will be rehearsing together "to ensure we are aligned and ready for game day."

Snipe, an avid football fan, also said that ASL performances typically match the tenor, rhythm and tempo of how singers perform the songs. "My approach will follow how this year's singers handle the songs in their own way," he said.

According to CBS News, there has been an ASL performer at the Super Bowl since 1992 and the NAD has been involved with the NFL in choosing the ASL performer since 2009.

Other talents who gave ASL performances at previous Super Bowls include Christine Sun Kim, Aarron Loggins, Alexandria Wailes, Kriston Pumphrey, Marlee Matlin, Treshelle Edmond, Amber Zion and John Maucere.

Snipe told CBS News that he believes it is important to have an ASL performer so that all viewers, including the hard of hearing community, can have the full experience of watching the performances on television.

"The Deaf and Hard of Hearing community needs access to these iconic songs just like everyone else," Snipe explained. "To those who are hearing, try watching television with the sound and captions off, and you'll experience inaccessibility. Why wouldn't you want to make everything accessible to everyone, including Deaf and Hard of Hearing people?"

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Jazmine Sullivan, Eric Church and H.E.R.
Jazmine Sullivan, Eric Church and H.E.R.
| Credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic; Jason Davis/Getty; Leon Bennett/Getty

Snipe was a founding member of the Wild Zappers, an all-male deaf dance company, and developed "Dip Hop" in the late 1990s, which he has defined as hip hop through deaf eyes.

In 2016, he released his album Deaf: So What?!, which was designed to showcase the appeal of music to all including those who are deaf, the NAD said in their statement from last month.

Snipe has also had a recurring role on The CW's Black Lighting.

Super Bowl LV will air on CBS at 6:30 p.m. ET.