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The inauguration of the President of the United States is a celebrated event indeed, even if it’s effectively the follow-up to what was a landmark occasion four years ago. But if there’s anyone who can bring the (white) house down, it’s one of America’s most beloved singing ladies, the first “American Idol,” a songwriting legend and a showstopping choir.
Four years after singing “At Last” at one of the inaugural balls, Beyonce returned to Washington as the day’s headliner (music-wise, that is) following Obama’s swearing-in. The R&B icon appeared focused and determined as she delivered a stunningly inspired version of “The Star-Spangled Banner” with Obama and other dignitaries looking on.
Immediately after, she clasped hands with the president and warmly embraced First Lady Michelle Obama. The singer and her husband, Jay-Z, were all smiles as they exited the platform and streamed into the Capital building.
Earlier, Kelly Clarkson handled “My Country Tis of Thee” with much zest, providing a grandiose vocal heard rarely from her more recent material. Clarkson turned in a sky-reaching rendition of the American hymm that is easily one of her best moments of the past few years.
Following the performance, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who acted as the day’s emcee, summed up Clarkson’s vocal with one word: “wow.”
James Taylor was also on hand to perform “America the Beautiful” and was sandwiched between the swearing-ins of Vice President Joe Biden and Obama. As expected from the legendary singer-songwriter, the performance was quiet and reserved, Taylor armed with an acoustic guitar and nothing more. A brief interlude, but fitting nonetheless.
The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir opened the musical portion of the ceremony with a rousing rendition of “Battle Hymn of the Republic.” Though the subsequent solo performances were big indeed, there was no moment more bombastic than the choir’s performance, providing a fitting beginning prior to Vice President Biden’s oath of office.
The inauguration ceremony follows days of activity leading up to the event, including multiple performances of varying intrigue. Most visible was the Hip-Hop Inaugural Ball’s honoring of John Legend, 2 Chainz, Doug E. Fresh and MC Lyte, as well as Lupe Fiasco’s fiasco of an inaugural performance, decrying the Obama administration and eventually being kicked off stage. Legend also joined Will.i.am. T-Pain and Common at an OurTime.org event.
Katy Perry, Usher, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Cyndi Lauper were also among the performers at the many balls and events in the D.C. area leading up to the inauguration.