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Top talent lined up for Obama's inaugural events


Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 08:21 a.m. HST, Jan 11, 2013

WASHINGTON » President Barack Obama is drawing an A-list of performers for his inaugural festivities, including a massive ball expected to draw more than 35,000 revelers.

Katy Perry, Smokey Robinson, Usher, Alicia Keys and Brad Paisley are among the stars announced today to sing at Obama's inaugural balls Jan. 21 and a children's concert on Jan. 19. Also signed up are Marc Anthony, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and the cast of "Glee."

The concert and the two official inaugural balls are being held at the Washington Convention Center over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend when Obama begins his second term. The performers join Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor, already announced for Obama's signing ceremony Jan. 21 on the West Front of the Capitol.

Other event performers include pop-rap foursome Far East Movement, Grammy-nominated pop-rock trio fun., R&B boy band Mindless Behavior, rapper Nick Cannon and youth gospel choir Soul Children of Chicago. Inaugural organizers aren't saying yet which performances will be at which convention center event.

Robinson told The Associated Press he'll be at The Inaugural Ball with his own band, but he isn't sure yet which songs he'll sing. Robinson said he's always happy to perform when the president asks because he's so proud of the first family.

"I've been in the White House many, many, many times for many presidents and this is the first time for me that it's really felt like when I go to the White House or something like that, it feels like you're going to your family's," Robinson said. "It feels like you're going home because that's how they treat me and that's how they treat my wife."

While Obama has cut the number of inaugural balls lower than any president since Dwight Eisenhower was first sworn into office in 1953, the two celebrations will be elaborate. The larger of the events, simply called The Inaugural Ball, is expected to draw more than 35,000 in a reflection of the quadrennial demand in Washington to toast the president in person on such a historic day.

The Inaugural Ball is being held across all 700,000 square feet of the Washington Convention Center's five exhibit halls, which four years ago held six separate balls.

The second gala is the Commander In Chief's Ball, a tradition started by President George W. Bush to honor the military. Doubling in size from four years ago to about 4,000, it's being held on the third-floor ballroom of the convention hall a mile from the White House. Tickets are free for invitees, including active-duty and reserve troops, Medal of Honor recipients and wounded warriors.

Demand has been high for entry to the two official affairs. Inaugural planners offered a limited number of tickets to The Inaugural Ball for sale at $60, and they sold out quickly Sunday night when Ticketmaster accidentally sent out an email ahead of time announcing they were available. Inaugural organizers are trying to stop a swift scalping business for the tickets, which have been cropping up for sale online.

That's even though city officials are predicting a drop in attendance to 600,000 to 800,000 for the inauguration this year compared with 2009, when a record 1.8 million crowded onto the National Mall to see the first black president sworn into office.

Those who can't get into the convention hall with the Obamas can still carouse into the night at several unofficial balls across Washington, including some drawing their own celebrity entertainment. Charity group Musicians On Call, when sends performers to play bedside for hospitalized patients, is being headlined by chart-topping singer Ke$ha.

Those who work for Obama will get their own chance to celebrate with the president, with a staff ball planned for the day after the inauguration. That celebration is kept private, but last year was reportedly quite a bash, according to one attendee, with rap star Jay-Z singing a riff on one of his hit songs, "99 problems but George Bush ain't one," to the delight of the throngs of young staffers who worked so hard to turn the White House Democratic.

More tickets to The Inaugural Ball will be on sale, but not to the general public. They will go to campaign volunteers, community leaders, elected officials and other invitees, as well as donors being asked to contribute up to $250,000 individually or $1 million from corporations to pay for the festivities. Invitees will be sent an email in the next few days with personalized Ticketmaster account information they can use to purchase up to two tickets.

The Inaugural Ball's halls extend across two floors, so the president and first lady plan to spin on the dance floor of each level. At the Commander In Chief's Ball, the president and first lady plan to continue the tradition of dancing with members of the military.

Inaugural planners said the cut in the number of balls was to reflect tough economic times and minimize the burden on law enforcement, other security personnel and Washington residents. But could it also be an effort to give the president some relief from having to dance to the same song over and over again all across town on an already exhausting day?

President George W. Bush didn't hide his annoyance after his second inaugural at having to repeatedly sashay around to a musical medley that included "I Could Have Danced All Night." Could have, but did not: He and first lady Laura Bush danced for a cumulative total of just 8 minutes, 54 seconds across 10 galas.

AP music writer Mesfin Fekadu contributed to this report.



Presidential Inaugural Committee: http://www.2013pic.org

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al_kiqaeda wrote:
I would have been impressed -- very impressed -- if Pres. Obama decided to have a simply ceremony and saved us the millions. Especially after that super expensive Hawaii vacation.
on January 11,2013 | 04:12AM
IAmSane wrote:
"I would have been impressed"

No, you wouldn't. You would have just found another reason to whine and complain.
on January 11,2013 | 08:12AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Surely he/she was in this forum complaining about the costs for all previous Presidents' swearing-in ceremonies, don't you think? Most of the events surrounding the inauguration are paid for by donors, regardless of which party the President belongs to.
on January 11,2013 | 09:06AM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
I stand corrected. $190,000,000 for just the security (the part that IS paid for by taxpayers) is a paltry sum. No wonder you guys think 20 miles of rail is a bargin for $5,600,000,000.
on January 11,2013 | 10:09AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Your assumptions are laughable. "you guys think"... wrong on more than one level.

Nor did you address the cost of previous Presidents' inaugurations.

on January 11,2013 | 11:33AM
NuuanuMama wrote:
Compared to Bush, President Obama's vacations are costing far less - http://www.factcheck.org/2010/01/president-obamas-vacation-days/ and his use of Air Force One is much less then Dubya - http://www.factcheck.org/2011/07/the-traveling-president/ He has reduced the number of inaugural balls which reduces the cost of security all the way around. At least compared to the former president, Mr. Obama looks like a spendthrift.
on January 11,2013 | 09:11AM
emagination808 wrote:
on January 11,2013 | 05:51AM
hanoz808 wrote:
have fun! his job aint easy, especially when you have to clean up previous messes....... I'm cleaning up the mess my previous board made, and it's been 1 yr later and still much to do.
on January 11,2013 | 07:34AM
loquaciousone wrote:
Stevie Wonder? Where's Willie K, Dennis Kamakahi, Riatea Helms, and the lists goes on...and he calls Hawaii his home State.
on January 11,2013 | 09:03AM
DowntownGreen wrote:
Punahou and Kamehameha marching bands? Ok, not the same, but still pretty cool...and, they cost a lot less. (Actually, free to the taxpayers).
on January 11,2013 | 09:56AM
64hoo wrote:
why do they say back in 2009 1.5 million attended the 2009 inaugural for the first black president. I keep telling people he is half white. so that does not make him the first black president. I go by bloodline not pigmentation of the skin. you have to be 100% black African American to be considered a black American. Obama is not African American. he is half white.
on January 11,2013 | 03:36PM
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