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Stars converge for inaugural celebrations

  • Story Highlights
  • Celebrations open Sunday evening with a free star-studded concert televised by HBO
  • Kids' inaugural show Monday will feature Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus
  • One of the 10 inaugural balls Tuesday evening will be shown live on ABC
  • Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder will perform at the ball
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By Alan Duke
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(CNN) -- John McCain tried to make Barack Obama's celebrity status a campaign issue last summer, but there's no debate about the president-elect's ability to draw famous and talented Americans to his inauguration.

Bruce Springsteen campaigns for Barack Obama in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 2, 2008.

Bruce Springsteen campaigns for Barack Obama in Cleveland, Ohio, on November 2, 2008.

Dozens of major celebrities will perform on several nationally televised shows, as well as 10 inaugural balls the evening after Obama is sworn in as the 44th U.S. president.

The celebration will open Sunday evening on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial with a free concert so star-studded it's hard to choose a headliner.

Beyonce, Bono and Bruce Springsteen are on the list.

Other musical performers include Mary J. Blige, Garth Brooks, Sheryl Crow, Renee Fleming, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, John Mellencamp, Usher Raymond IV, Shakira, James Taylor,, and Stevie Wonder.

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In addition, Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah and Denzel Washington will take the stage to deliver historical readings. More performers will likely be named.

Executive Producer George Stevens Jr. said the intention is "to root the event in history, celebrating the moments when our nation has united to face great challenges and prevail." See how inaugurations have changed over the years »

Don Mischer, who directed the opening ceremony of the 1996 Olympics and ` recent Super Bowl half-time shows, is directing this event.

"We will have the statue of Abraham Lincoln looking down on our stage and a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people lining the mall -- a tableau any director would relish," Mischer said.

Admission will be free, but security will be tight. Check out an interactive map of Washington

Five gates leading into the area, including one around the Reflecting Pool at the base of the Lincoln Memorial, open at 8 a.m. ET Sunday. Performances start at 2:30 p.m.

HBO paid for exclusive rights to televise Sunday's show, but its feed will be free to all cable and satellite viewers from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. ET. It cannot be seen through local broadcast television stations.

The Disney Channel will carry Monday night's big event -- "Kids' Inaugural: We Are The Future" -- from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. ET. Those who don't have cable will be able to hear it live on Radio Disney or watch it online later at

Musical performers will include the Jonas Brothers, Miley Cyrus, Demi Lovato and Bow Wow.

Singer-actress Keke Palmer -- star of Nickelodeon's "True Jackson, VP" -- is one of the hosts for the show, which will be staged in Washington's Verizon Center.

Palmer, 15, hopes to meet Obama's daughters Sasha, 7, and Malia, 10, backstage Monday night.

Palmer said she moved from Chicago to Los Angeles when she was about the same age as Malia is now, and Obama's election is "very special for my family and me, being from Chicago and all."

"I also feel like I know what Sasha and Malia are experiencing in terms of leaving Chicago at an early age, having to attend a brand new school, a new house, just new everything," Palmer said. "It's not easy, but as long as you have great parents, which we all three have, then it turns out OK."

There should be plenty of celebrity sightings at the swearing-in ceremony at noon ET Tuesday or in the parade starting at 2:30 p.m. Viewers will have no trouble finding a television broadcast of those events.

Palmer said she will likely view the inaugural parade from a viewing stand at the Pennsylvania Avenue headquarters of the National Council of Negro Women.

"Hey, either way I'm so happy to be a part of it no matter how small," she said. "This is historic!"

While inaugural ball tickets are tough to get, one of the 10 balls Tuesday evening will be shown live on ABC television from 8 to 10 p.m. ET. "The Neighborhood Ball: An Inauguration Celebration" is billed by planners as "the premier event of the inauguration evening."

Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey, Faith Hill, Jay-Z, Alicia Keys, Shakira, Stevie Wonder and others yet to be announced will perform live at the ball.

The Neighborhood Ball will take place in a hall at the Washington Convention Center, the venue for four other balls. Take a quiz about first ladies' inaugural gowns »


A Youth Ball -- aimed at partygoers ages 18 to 35 -- will take place at the Hilton Washington. Ball planners have not released the entertainment line-up for this ball, but said whoever is there won't stop playing until 2:30 a.m.

For those who somehow miss all of this -- or want more -- the Presidential Inaugural Committee is selling a CD-DVD with 18 music tracks from many of the inauguration performers. Eight key Obama speeches from the past two years also are included.

All About U.S. Presidential InaugurationBarack Obama

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