Where have all the superstars gone? In 2009, the Obama inauguration was so filled with A listers they caused gridlock. Aretha Franklin and her famous hat sang at the swearing in. She also did a free concert at the Kennedy Center. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsNHhJTZAM0 An ABC special featured a dozen or so performers including Sting, Stevie Wonder, and Mariah Carey. They all sang Stevie’s “Signed Sealed Delivered I’m Yours.” Sting and Stevie performed “Brand New Day.” Over at The Creative Coalition Ball, Sting, Elvis Costello and Sam Moore performed. Elsewhere, there were musical extravaganzas galore. Bruce Springsteen performed at the Lincoln Memorial for free with a half dozen stars at least.
Alas, this won’t be the case this year.
The heavy hitters are staying home. Neither Bruce, Jon Bon Jovi nor Aretha Franklin is coming to Washington. They’ve all passed for a variety of reasons– schedule, exhaustion, etc. And that’s interesting because they were all big Obama supporters during the election.
The only holdovers are Beyonce and James Taylor, whose participation is not very intense this time around. Stevie Wonder, Smokey Robinson, and Alicia Keys are set to perform at a children’s event on Saturday of Inauguration weekend. Kelly Clarkson is singing at the inauguration. Of course, the number of Inaugural balls is way down too. But the talent is very B list. The Creative Coalition was only able to secure The Goo Goo Dolls. Lynyrd Skynyrd is said to be at another. John Legend, who’s game for anything, will be at one of the events.
But no Bruce, Aretha or Bon Jovi. And not a peep out of Barbra Streisand.
It’s very different. Look at this story I wrote in 2009: http://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/2009/01/05/obama-picks-stars-inaugural/
And here’s what I wrote on January 21, 2009:
Even though Barack Obama‘s Neighborhood Ball was beaten in the TV ratings last night by “American Idol,” it was without a doubt the hottest of the official inaugural events.
Stevie Wonder, Sting, Mariah Carey, Aicia Keys, Queen Latifah, Jay Z and Beyonce were just some of the performers who wowed the crowd of 2,000 or more former Obama campaign workers and residents of Washington, DC.
And there was plenty of Hollywood star power with Denzel Washington, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Jamie Foxx all hanging out backstage and introducing segments. Leo brought his dad, who took video footage on a minicam of the acrobat troupe that formed a human pyramid. Denzel took a large freight elevator to the stage with a costumed gospel choir. They sang to him and asked if he had a voice. “Not me,” he laughed. “My wife can sing. You don’t want to hear me.”
At the back of the elevator Sting, incognito in his brown beard, almost went unrecognized until one of the ladies gasped and the attention shifted.
Down in the dressing rooms – thin curtained partitions with card tables and couches – Sting and Stevie Wonder were next door neighbors. While Stevie practiced his harmonica riffs, Sting listened to an instrumental track of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” for the big group superstar singalong.
Suddenly Stevie started playing along from his side of the curtain while Sting tried out the lyrics on his side. Then Stevie went into a jazz riff that stopped everything. It was an extraordinary moment, topped only by the pair’s show closer on Sting’s “Brand New Day.”
Meanwhile in the holding area, Alicia Keys greeted Queen Latifah. Their moms talked about how much they loved the women’s performances in “The Secret Life of Bees.” Latifah looked sensational in her gown. Sean Diddy Combs, dressed to the nines in a spiffy tux, lingered in a corner ,even though he wasn’t on the show. Later Latifah went up on stage with the moms to watch Alicia’s knockout performance of “No One” and took pictures with a beautiful nine-year old girl in a formal white gown. The mother was over the moon.
And then, of course, there was Mariah Carey with her young husband, Nick Cannon. The latter was perched above the stage where was deejaying, playing the songs that went with the artists. When Wonder finished his terrific new single “All About the Love Again” from the new Obama CD (on Hdden Beach Records), Cannon launched into a medley of Stevie’s classic hits.
“Do you do bar mitzvahs?” I asked. He laughed. “Why not? It’s good money!”
Mariah meantime was glowing (but not pregnant) and very happy with her performance of “Hero.” “Was it ok?” she asked me when we ran into each other. Her next question was maybe more relevant. “Is Randy here?” She asked of pal Randy Jackson, our mutual friend.
Alas he wasn’t. Jackson was busy on “American Idol,” the ratings king, listening to “Gong Show” types. Something tells me he would have been happier here.