The inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will, out of necessity, be unique. Plans had already changed due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, but the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 led to heightened security concerns that further limited crowds and access.
Despite all that, the Biden-Harris Inaugural Committee has scheduled a variety of musical performances for the ceremony itself, for their unique take on the inaugural parade and for an evening TV special. In the era of concert livestreams, the usual inaugural balls and parades will be replaced by a series of streamed performances from around the country.
Here are some of the performers scheduled to appear and why they were included. All of the news networks will cover the events below, as well as on social media platforms like YouTube. Coverage beings early on Wednesday. See below for times.
Inauguration Ceremony: 8:15 a.m. PT.
The ceremony itself traditionally has limited performances, focusing mostly on speeches, poetry readings and the swearing-in itself. This year is no different, with only two musicians on the schedule.
Singing the National Anthem before the inauguration will be Lady Gaga, who supported Biden throughout his campaign both at events and online to her sizable social media following.
Another staunch campaigner for Biden, Jennifer Lopez and her husband, Alex Rodriguez, had been outspoken supporters throughout the race. Lopez is scheduled for a musical performance, but what will be performed hasn’t been announced.
Country superstar Garth Brooks has performed for every President since Jimmy Carter (with the exception of Ronald Reagan). Brooks, who reportedly joked that he’ll probably be the only Republican at the celebration, has said he’ll be performing as a show of unity.
— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) January 14, 2021
Parade Across America: Beginning around 12:15 to 12:30 p.m. PT
In lieu of the traditional inaugural parade, this year’s festivities will include a virtual Parade Across America, where all 50 states and territories will contribute a performance, including several bands and musicians.
New Radicals will reunite for the first time in 22 years to play “You Get What You Give,” a favorite song of Biden’s late son Beau during his cancer treatments.
DJ Cassidy, DJ to the stars, performed both at President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009 as well as his 50th birthday party, among other high-profile parties and events. Wednesday, he will present a special edition of his Pass the Mic series featuring Earth, Wind & Fire, legendary guitarist Nile Rodgers, and Kathy Sledge of Sister Sledge.
Jason Zgonc, a 14-year-old trumpeter from Atlanta, rose to fame playing for hospital workers on their breaks to cheer them up.
“Celebrating America:” 8:30 p.m. ET/PT (Not on Fox)
Airing on Wednesday evening, “Celebrating America” will be a 90-minute TV special hosted by Tom Hanks and featuring a variety of performers.
An outspoken political activist, Bruce Springsteen is a mainstay at inaugurations for Democratic Presidents, and this year will be no exception.
Foo Fighters announced late last week that they would be performing during the Inauguration, and it’s since been revealed it will be during the evening special. They haven’t elaborated, though they have been making frequent appearances to promote their new album.
John Legend and his wife, Chrissy Tiegen, appeared with Kamala Harris during the closing days of the campaign in a get-out-the-vote effort.
Like the Foo Fighters, Demi Lovato has no direct connection to Biden, but said on Twitter that she was “left speechless” by the honor.
I’m SO honored to announce that I will be joining @JoeBiden & @KamalaHarris for their special event, “Celebrating America” on January 20th at 8:30pm ET/PT ❤️🤍💙 I was left speechless when I was asked to perform! Tune in with various tv networks & live streaming services 🇺🇸 pic.twitter.com/YiYmQ43M51
— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) January 13, 2021
Country stars Tim McGraw and Tyler Hubbard will be performing their single “Undivided,” a call to end the violence and political hostility in America. McGraw, who’s spoken in favor of gun control, and Hubbard, a vocal supporter of the Black Lives Matter movement and against systemic racism, are two of the few high-profile country music stars to openly voice progressive views.
Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons will also perform during the TV special. With vocals recorded on Election Day, Timberlake and Clemons’ “Better Days” is a reaction to the frustrations of the Trump administration and the pandemic, as well as an optimistic look ahead. That makes it a natural inclusion for a ceremony focused on the better days to come.
Follow editor Daniel J. Willis at Twitter.com/BayAreaData.