Super Bowl LVII was historic on multiple fronts, but the moment that arguably generated the most attention had nothing to do with the game itself. International pop star Rihanna stole the show with an explosive halftime show in which she revealed to the world, for the first time, that she was pregnant.
In addition to delivering what may well be remembered as one of the greatest Super Bowl halftime shows, Rihanna now joins a list of celebrated artists who have placed their pregnancies at center stage. Below are 10 other memorable performances by then-pregnant musicians, including Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, and Gwen Stefani.
1986: Televised performance with Kukl
In 1986, Björk wore a belly-bearing shirt during a televised performance with her Icelandic post-punk band Kukl. The performance drew outrage at the time, especially because of how young Björk looked. Drummer Sigtryggur “Siggi” Baldursson, told The Guardian: “I was at a party at my grandmother’s when it was broadcast, and everyone was shocked and disgusted. Björk was 20 but looked about 14. People were going, ‘My God! It’s a pregnant child!’”
2005: Fort Lauderdale concert
During the final stop of her U.S. tour in December 2005, pop star Gwen Stefani confirmed reports of her pregnancy in the middle of a performance. While encouraging the crowd to sing along with her at the Bank Atlantic Center in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Stefani patted her belly and said “I want you to sing so loud that the baby hears it.” She and her husband at the time, Bush lead singer Gavin Rossdale, welcomed their first son the next May.
2009: Grammy Awards
Rapper and singer M.I.A. famously performed at the 2009 Grammy Awards wearing a sheer black shirt that revealed a particularly large belly bump. The February 8 performance actually fell on M.I.A.’s due date, and she even experienced contractions during her performance of “Swagga Like Us.” Jack Sussman, who ran the Grammy show, told MTV that before the show began, “I asked her to just hang on until 10 p.m. ET.” Still, an ambulance was on standby.
2010: Christmas special
With her mega-hit “All I Want for Christmas Is You” dominating the airwaves every holiday season, Mariah Carey is practically synonymous with Christmas, and she has done more than her fair share of holiday specials over the years. But one of the most memorable was the 2010 Live at Christmas In Washington, when she performed several holiday standards while wearing a red dress that prominently displayed her pregnancy with twins.
2012: FIFA Women’s World Cup
A pregnant Shakira delivered some of her signature hip-shaking moves in a form-fitting black dress during the closing ceremony of the FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan in October 2012. The performance was not without controversy but not because of the pregnancy. Amnesty International and Sing for Democracy had asked Shakira (and Rihanna) not to perform because of alleged human rights abuse taking place in the nation, but Shakira went on with the show anyway.
2014: MTV European Music Awards
At the 2014 MTV European Music Awards, R&B singer/songwriter Alicia Keys earned acclaim for her performance of “We Are Here” while wearing a silver figure-hugging gown that accentuated her pregnant belly. It was not her first time performing while pregnant: she had also done so at the 2010 BET Awards, the same year she had been named Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip-Hop Artist of the Decade.
2014: Wango Tango concert
On the day before Mother’s Day, an expectant Christina Aguilera performed her hit song “Say Something” with the group A Great Big World at KIIS-FM’s 2014 Wango Tango concert. She was pregnant with her second child and first with her fiancé Matthew Rutler. One month before the concert, she tweeted: “So blissful in taking this time for creating all things blossoming new on the horizon…album, baby & beautiful music to come.”
2015: Los Angeles concert
Kelly Clarkson didn’t expect to reveal her pregnancy when she took to the stage of Los Angeles’ Staples Center in August 2015 as part of her tour for the album Piece by Piece. But midway through her performance of that album’s title track, she became overwhelmed with emotions and said: “I was not planning on announcing this, but I’m totally pregnant.” After the crowd roared with delight, she added: “I’d like to apologize to my husband. That was not planned.”
2017: Grammy Awards
Beyoncé delivered one of the most iconic moments of her storied career at the 59th Grammy Awards in February 2017, which marked her first public appearance since announcing she was expecting twins with her husband Jay-Z. During the show, she delivered a medley of songs from her acclaimed album Lemonade while wearing a now-famous jewel-encrusted gown and golden headpiece reminiscent of Cleopatra.
2018: Saturday Night Live
After weeks of refusing to confirm pregnancy reports, rapper Cardi B put the rumors to bed when she appeared on an April 2018 episode of Saturday Night Live, wearing a white evening gown that showcased her baby bump. After the reveal, cultural critic Ronda Racha Penrice wrote: “Electing to become a mother amidst burgeoning superstardom is boldly unconventional. But so is most everything about Cardi’s rise.”
Colin McEvoy joined the Biography.com staff in 2023, and before that had spent 16 years as a journalist, writer, and communications professional. He is the author of two true crime books: Love Me or Else and Fatal Jealousy. He is also an avid film buff, reader, and lover of great stories.