Former senator and two-term vice president Joe Biden stepped into history on Wednesday (Jan. 20) alongside his historic Vice President Sen. Kamala Harris as they were inaugurated on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. And while some of the usual pomp and circumstance — not to mention the typically huge crowds — were curtailed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and security concerns in the age of the violent assault on the Capitol by supporters of former president Donald Trump on Jan. 6, Lady Gaga was on hand to ensure that the event felt like a proper celebration.
The singer took center stage just before noon to sing The National Anthem in a striking, billowing floor-length red skirt and long-sleeved black top accented with an oversized gold peace dove brooch and black leather gloves, accompanied by the President’s United States Marine Band. After greeting Biden and Harris, Gaga composed herself, grabbed a gold-colored microphone and belted out a powerful rendition of the notoriously difficult “Star-Spangled Banner” with her typical theatrical panache, ending with her hand over her heart and nods to Biden, Harris and former President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama on her way back to hear seat.
The stirring performance came one day after Gaga sent her Little Monsters a message of hope to usher in the new administration. “I pray tomorrow will be a day of peace for all Americans,” Gaga tweeted. “A day for love, not hatred. A day for acceptance not fear. A day for dreaming of our future joy as a country. A dream that is non-violent, a dream that provides safety for our souls. Love, from the Capitol.”
She shared another message shortly before her performance. “Singing our National Anthem for the American People is my honor. I will sing during a ceremony, a transition, a moment of change—between POTUS 45 and 46. For me, this has great meaning,” she tweeted. “My intention is to acknowledge our past, be healing for our present, and passionate for a future where we work together lovingly. I will sing to the hearts of all people who live on this land. Respectfully and kindly, Lady Gaga.”
Gaga joins a long, storied history of artists who’ve performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at presidential inaugurations, from opera contralto Marian Anderson (John F. Kennedy), to jazz singer Ethel Ennis (Richard Nixon), opera singer Marilyn Horne and Rev. Jesse Jackson’s daughter Santita Jackson (Bill Clinton, 1993, 1997), Beyoncé (Barack Obama, 2013) and America’s Got Talent runner-up Jackie Evancho (Donald Trump).
In a sign of the hoped-for spirit of bipartisanship that many are expecting following the four years of bitterly divisive rule by the former president, Gaga’s Trump-supporting father, Joe Germanotta, said last week that he was “extremely proud” of her spotlight performance at Biden’s inauguration. Gaga was just one of the glittering galaxy of stars who will fete Biden’s inauguration following the relatively low-wattage roster of performers at the 45th president’s inaugural in 2017.
In addition to Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks taking the stage for Biden on Wednesday afternoon, the festivities will include Wednesday night’s prime-time TV special, Celebrating America, which will be hosted by Hanks from 8:30-10 p.m. ET. With the traditional celebratory balls iced due to the pandemic, the broadcast that will stream on five TV networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and MSNBC), and online on the presidential inaugural committee’s YouTube and social media channels, as well as Amazon Prime Video, Twitch and NewsNOW from Fox will feature Demi Lovato, Bruce Springsteen, Foo Fighters, John Legend, Jon Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, Ozuna and Ant Clemons.
Watch video of Gaga’s performance below.