By Judy Kurtz - 09/07/12 12:44 AM EDT
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A star-studded assortment of Hollywood heavyweights took to the stage Thursday, the last night of the Democratic National Convention, to sing, rock and speak about their support for President Obama.
With a guitar in hand, James Taylor — the first musical act to appear — was about to begin playing “Carolina in my Mind” in front of a chair onstage when he quipped, “I know it’s an empty chair — makes you nervous, doesn’t it?” before sitting down.
Taylor, 64, then said to laughs from the audience at the Time Warner Cable Arena, “I’ve been watching the coverage and ... I don’t get it. I mean, I’m an old white guy, and I love Barack Obama.”
As the singer began strumming his 1975 cover hit, “How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You,)” Democratic Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas) and Jan Schakowsky (Ill.), together in the Texas delegation section, kicked up their heels to dance along to the music.
The reaction to Latin singer Marc Anthony’s rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” was quite different; a number of people on the convention floor were seen crying as Anthony belted out the national anthem.
Chart topper Mary J. Blige, sporting a tight silver and gold dress, shouted, “Get it crunk for President Obama for four more years!” before bringing the crowd to their feet as she sang “Family Affair.”
Blige’s convention appearance was a repeat performance of sorts for the R&B queen, who was tapped to sing at Obama’s inaugural concert in 2008.
With his band’s name beaming from the video screens behind him (with the “o’s” in “Foo Fighters” replaced with Obama campaign symbols), Dave Grohl gave the audience an energetic set. The former Nirvana drummer, wearing a black jacket and jeans, introduced “My Hero” by saying, “I think this song makes perfect sense here.”
As Grohl’s group left the stage, convention-goers could be heard chanting, "Fired up. Ready to go!”
“Scandal” actress Kerry Washington attempted to take some of the focus away from her Hollywood career, saying, “I'm here not just as an actress but as a woman, an African-American, a granddaughter of Ellis Island immigrants, a person who could not have afforded college without the help of student loans and as one of millions of volunteers working to re-elect President Obama!”
Scarlett Johansson, donning a blazer and a slicked back ponytail, also tried to distance herself from the Tinseltown crowd, saying she was speaking “not as a representative of young Hollywood, but as a representative of the many millions of young Americans, particularly young women, who depend on public and nonprofit programs to help them survive.”
The smoky-eyed “Avengers” starlet, 27, said, “Whether we can get healthcare, afford college, be guaranteed equal pay — all [are] at risk. And that's why I'm here today — to use whatever attention I'm fortunate enough to receive to shed the spotlight on what's at stake for all of us.”
Clad in a sleeveless blue dress, “Desperate Housewives” star Eva Longoria, a co-chairwoman for Obama’s reelection campaign, spoke of her Texas upbringing working odd jobs to help pay for her college education.
Contending Republican nominee Mitt Romney would raise taxes on middle-class families and cut taxes for the wealthy, Longoria was greeted by cheers when she said, “The Eva Longoria who worked at Wendy's flipping burgers — she needed a tax break. But the Eva Longoria who works on movie sets does not.”
As Longoria wrapped up, audience members cried, “Si se puede!” — Spanish for “Yes we can!”