While the Trump administration seems to be scrambling to attract performers willing to attach themselves to his upcoming inauguration — even the DC-based high school and university bands that traditionally march in the inaugural parade have declined to participate this year — the fact that there have been few announcements made about the entertainment lineup isn’t necessarily out of the ordinary.
“The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) has only two months to put together a celebration that will be attended by tens of thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of people,” says Theo LeCompte, who served as Director of Events and Ceremonies for Obama’s 2013 inauguration. “Four years ago, we weren’t ready to announce what we were doing in the middle of December. Usually you don’t start hearing until early January.”
But in 2013, LeCompte had a different challenge: how to spread the love evenly. “We had folks like Katy Perry and Stevie Wonder who had been out on the campaign trail for the president. They were excited to come perform, but we just had to figure out where to put them all.” The 2013 inauguration’s events included the Commander in Chief’s Ball for members of the armed services, a kids’ ball and two official inaugural balls (there are always many unofficial balls and parties surrounding every inauguration, but those are usually planned regardless of who wins the election). None of 2013’s inaugural performers — which included Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Usher and the cast of “Glee” — were paid to show up, although the committee covered their travel and production expenses.