On Wednesday, January 20, America enters a new chapter. At noon, Joe Biden will be sworn in as the 46th President of The United States from the U.S. Capitol’s West Front in Washington D.C. Kamala Harris will make history becoming first female, first Black person, and first South East Asian American to be Vice President of The United States. And perhaps, most notably, Donald Trump’s tumultuous one-term presidency will come an end.
Between the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by a mob of Trump supporters on January 6, this year’s Inauguration Day will look much different from those in the past. For starters, the National Mall and Washington Monument are closed to the public and Americans are being told to stay home and tune in remotely. Up to 25,000 National Guard troops were also placed around the Capitol and around the city in response to security concerns.
Despite the new health and safety guidelines, the day won’t be any less historic. And, as usual, the celebration for the new president will be packed with star-studded performances. The inaugural ceremonies will begin with Lady Gaga performing the National Anthem and Jennifer Lopez will get the virtual crowd on their feet with.an electric performance. Later in the evening, Justin Timberlake, Jon Bon Jovi, Demi Lovato, and Ant Clemons will also take the stage for an Inauguration Day prime time TV special, Celebrating America, hosted by Tom Hanks.
“We are thrilled to announce an inspired group of dynamic participants for the 59th Inaugural Ceremonies. They represent one clear picture of the grand diversity of our great nation and will help honor and celebrate the time-honored traditions of the presidential inauguration as President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris take the oath of office on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol,’ Presidential Inaugural Committee CEO Tony Allen said in a statement. “They are also committed to the President-elect and the Vice-President-elect’s steadfast vision of a new chapter in our American story in which we are an America united in overcoming the deep divisions and challenges facing our people, unifying the country, and restoring the soul of our nation.”
Contemporary artists taking part in the patriotic January event has become a tradition in modern history. Back in 1961, John Kennedy was treated to star-studded musical celebration with performances by Frank Sinatra, Ethel Merman, Harry Belafonte, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, and Gene Kelly. James Brown memorably performed at President Richard Nixon’s inauguration in 1969. Linda Ronstadt also covered Willie Nelson’s “Crazy” at President Jimmy Carter’s inauguration in 1977.
Most recently in 2017, Trump struggled to secure big name acts for his Inaugural events. The 45th president ended up settling for the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, former America’s Got Talent star, Jackie Evancho Rockers, rock band 3 Doors Down, and country singers Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood. Charlotte Church, Elton John, Kanye West, and KISS reportedly all turned down invitations.
As we gear up for Biden’s big day, we are looking back at some of the most memorable performances from presidential inaugurations in the past few decades.
Aretha Franklin in 2009
The Queen of Soul gave everyone on the National Lawn goosebumps as she sang “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” at President Barack Obama’s first inauguration.
Michael Jackson, Diana Ross And more in 1993
Part of the America’s Reunion on the Mall concert during Bill Clinton’s first inauguration celebration, the best of the best in music came together to perform “We Are The World,” led by the The King Of Pop. Other famous faces in the giant chorus included Tony Bennett, Kenny Rogers, Luther Vandross, Melissa Etheridge, Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, Ashford & Simpson, and more.
Beyoncé IN 2013
For the second inauguration of President Barack Obama in 2013, the superstar sang the national anthem from West Front of the U.S. Capital wearing a glamorous Emilio Pucci Pre-Fall 2013 black velvet and chiffon beaded cut-out long-sleeved gown. She later admitted to lip-syncing part the performance, but we still loved it.
Ricky Martin in 2001
The crowd went loco when the Latin pop star took the stage performing ‘The Cup Of Life” during President George W. Bush’s first inauguration.
Fleetwood Mac In 1993
Specially re-formed for President Clinton’s first inauguration, the legendary band reunited to perform “Don’t Stop,” Clinton’s famous campaign song, at the Inaugural Gala held at The Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. The new president and his entire family even joined the rock stars on stage.
“It was one of those experiences that you never forget,” remarked Stevie Nicks of the experience. “Bill was very sparkly.”
Stevie Wonder, Shakira, And Usher In 2009
Part of the We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial special, the legendary singer, R&B singer, and Columbian pop star came together to perform Wonder’s “Higher Ground.”
The Beach Boys in 1985
America’s favorite surfers served up an a cappella version of “Their Hearts Were Full of Spring,” at President Ronald Reagan’s second inaugural.
Beyoncé In 2009
Sure we already highlighted a Beyoncé performance, but come on, it’s Beyoncé. In probably the sweetest inauguration moment of all time, Queen Bey performed her Grammy Award-winning cover of Etta James’ “At Last” for President and Mrs. Obama’s first dance at the 2009 Inaugural Ball.