Donald Trump’s Jan 20 inauguration ceremony is going to look less like the Grammys and more like “the island of misfit acts.”
In terms of entertainment, the president-elect’s big day won’t quite resemble Barack Obama’s 2009 and 2013 star-studded inauguration events.
In 2009, Obama had Aretha Franklin singing “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” and renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma playing for the nation’s first African-American president. In 2013, Beyonce sang the National Anthem — well, depending on your definition of “sing.”
With the exception of a few artists — most notably Kid Rock, Ted Nugent and, after the fact, Kanye West — most of the music industry campaigned vigorously for Trump’s 2016 opponent, Democrat Hillary Clinton. If she had won, the likes of Katy Perry, Demi Lovato, Bon Jovi and every other liberal act would presumably have been happy to perform for her.
Trump has made a point of distancing himself from liberal Hollywood, going after everyone from Meryl Streep to the cast of “Hamilton” for even vaguely questioning his agenda. He even tweeted on Dec. 22 that he did not want the A-list celebrities who opposed his rise to power at the inauguration.
The so-called "A" list celebrities are all wanting tixs to the inauguration, but look what they did for Hillary, NOTHING. I want the PEOPLE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 23, 2016
Because of this divide between Trump and the entertainment elite, it became an uphill battle for him to acquire talent to perform at the inauguration.
Rumors began swirling almost immediately after his victory on Nov 8 about which artists the inauguration committee had or was planning on reaching out to, and the artists in question began systematically refuting them.
So far, the list of artists and groups that allegedly were approached and rejected the offer include Celine Dion, KISS, Elton John, Motley Crue and Andrea Bocelli. The Beach Boys appear to be a solid maybe.
English singer/songwriter Rebecca Ferguson came close to accepting the gig, but decided against it once she was told she wouldn’t be allowed to sing Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” which was written to protest racism, particularly the lynching of African-Americans.
Broadway actress and singer Jennifer Holliday was originally supposed to perform during Trump’s welcome concert on Jan. 19, but pulled out the day after the announcement about her involvement was made.
“My only choice must now be to stand with the LGBT Community and to state unequivocally that I WILL NOT PERFORM FOR THE WELCOME CONCERT OR FOR ANY OF THE INAUGURATION FESTIVITIES!” she wrote in an open letter published in TheWrap.
Welsh singer Charlotte Church tweeted on Jan. 10 that she had been asked to sing at the inauguration, but scoffed at the idea, calling the president-elect a “tyrant.”
So, who didn’t turn down the Trump team’s performance requests?
The “Star-Spangled Banner” will be performed by 16-year-old Jackie Evancho, who is most famous for finishing second on “America’s Got Talent” when she was just 10.
“I just kind of thought that this is for my country,” she told the New York Times. “So if people are going to hate on me, it’s for the wrong reason.”
Talladega College, a historically black Alabama school, will participate in the Presidential Inaugural Parade. Some with ties to the college balked at the idea of being a part of Trump’s coronation because of the harsh treatment some African-Americans received at his rallies on the campaign trail.
“As many of those who chose to participate in the parade have said, we feel the inauguration of a new president is not a political event but a civil ceremony celebrating the transfer of power,” Talladega College Billy Hawkins said in a statement.
The Rockettes and Mormon Tabernacle Choir round out the groups who will be part of Trump’s historic day. Both groups had internal spats involving the decision to associate themselves with Trump.
A few Rockettes refused to be a part of the inauguration, so the organization decided nobody would be forced to participate. A member of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir quit because she “could never ‘throw roses to Hitler.’ And I certainly could never sing for him.”
A week before the big day, Trump’s inaugural committee announced a Jan. 19 concert at the Lincoln Memorial called “The Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration.”
The concert will feature performances from Toby Keith, 3 Doors Down, Lee Greenwood, The Piano Guys and The Frontmen of Country. Actor Jon Voight, a noted Trump supporter, will also be a part of the festivities.
Keith said his choice to be a part of Trump’s inauguration has nothing to do with personal politics.
“I don’t apologize for performing for our country or military,” he said.