By Judy Kurtz
In terms of A-listers, the big guns are coming out on Inauguration Day. Beyonce, a longtime Obama supporter, has been tapped by the Presidential Inaugural Committee to sing the national anthem. The gig is an upgrade of sorts for the “Single Ladies” chart-topper; Beyonce belted out the Etta James classic “At Last” for the president and Michelle Obama for the couple’s first dance at a 2009 inaugural ball.
Kelly Clarkson will also brave the likely frigid temps at inauguration to deliver her rendition of “My Country ’Tis of Thee” at the ceremony. James Taylor, who performed at the Democratic National Convention last September, is poised to sing “America the Beautiful.”
While the number of official inaugural balls has been reduced from 10 in 2009 to two this time around, plenty of musicians who are used to selling out stadiums will be in abundance throughout the shindigs.
Wacky outfit-wearing entertainer and “Wide Awake” singer Katy Perry, R&B singer Alicia Keys, country music’s Brad Paisley, Marc Anthony, “Scream” hitmaker Usher, Stevie Wonder, the bands fun. and the Far East Movement, as well as cast members from “Glee,” will all lend their voices to at least one of the official balls.
The 57th presidential inauguration will bring out many other familiar celebrity faces that were constant cheerleaders for Obama while he was on the campaign trail.
Former “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria, who co-chaired Obama’s reelection campaign and is serving in the same role for his inauguration, is slated to attend a slew of events over the weekend. The actress is among the headliners at an inaugural Sunday brunch at Georgetown’s Café Milano — along with movie executive Harvey Weinstein and Tina Brown, among others — held by Newsweek and The Daily Beast. That night, Longoria will appear at a Kennedy Center performance honoring the inauguration and Latino culture, which will also include legends Chita Rivera, Jose Feliciano and Rita Moreno.
Grammy Award winner John Legend, who performed at several Obama fundraisers last year, will help ring in another four years for the president over the weekend at an official ball and other soirees. Legend, along with actress Rosario Dawson, La La Anthony, rapper 2 Chainz, Doug E. Fresh, Swizz Beatz, MC Lyte, and E! news co-anchor Terrence J are among the expected guests joining music mogul Russell Simmons at what’s being dubbed “the dopest ball ever,” the Hip-Hop Inaugural Ball at The Harman Center in downtown D.C. on Sunday.
The same venue will host another celeb-packed event on Monday, as the Creative Coalition holds an inaugural gala featuring a performance by the Goo Goo Dolls. Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk tells ITK her organization has been working day and night on the VIP ball, saying, “A lot of energy [has been] expended to make for one perfect evening.” The guest list includes Creative Coalition President and “Private Practice” star Tim Daly, “Modern Family’s” Eric Stonestreet, Connie Britton of “Nashville” fame, Paula Abdul, Omar Epps, Alan Cumming, Richard Schiff of “The West Wing,” Johnny Galecki, Wayne Knight, Taraji P. Henson, Alfre Woodard and Melissa Leo.
In some cases, the celeb contingency invading Washington will be nothing if not eclectic. The Human Rights Campaign will host an “Out for Equality Inaugural Celebration” featuring “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” singer Cyndi Lauper, along with E! anchor Ross Matthews and Broadway star Audra McDonald.
Musicians on Call and the Recording Industry Association of America will welcome the self-professed whiskey-guzzling, multi-platinum-selling pop singer Ke$ha at their inauguration charity benefit at the 9:30 Club on Monday. DJ Jazzy Jeff will be providing the beats for the night.