The President-elect has not announced major acts for his big day
Here's who is booked so far
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated
President-elect Donald Trump has for decades hobnobbed with famous faces – A-list models, actors and musicians.
But after a divisive election season and a campaign rife with rhetoric against Muslims and immigrants, Trump has not attracted a wealth of star power to his Inaugural Ceremony.
Plans are far from settled, but as the days until the inauguration tick down, Trump’s swearing-in ceremony won’t include performances from the big name acts like Beyoncé and Yo-Yo Ma who took the stage for President Barack Obama.
And for the record, Trump and his team have said they are fine with that.
Boris Epshteyn, director of communications for the Inaugural Committee, dismissed the absence of major musicians in an interview on CNN in December.
“This is not Woodstock,” Epshteyn said. “It’s not summer jam. It’s not a concert.”
One evening earlier in December, Trump tweeted his own disdain for high profile celebrities, writing, “The so-called ‘A’ list celebrities are all wanting tix to the inauguration, but look what they did for Hillary, NOTHING. I want the PEOPLE!”
This page will update as the situation changes, but here is who the team has officially announced so far.
Talladega Marching Tornadoes
The marching band for Talladega College inked an agreement to perform at the event, but as 2017 came, the issue sparked a days-long debate in the historically black college.
Talladega College President Billy C. Hawkins announced the final decision in a statement, noting that the “lessons students can learn from this experience cannot be taught in a classroom.”
“We respect and appreciate how our students and alumni feel about our participation in this parade,” said Hawkins. “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.”
Supporters of the trip argued that the experience would benefit the band – and be a source of pride for the relatively unknown school.
The Inaugural Committee announced in December the Rockettes would bring their iconic New York act to the nation’s capital. But in the days and weeks that followed, some degree of controversy emerged.
Apparently worried about being associated with the divisive President-elect, several members of the dance group balked at being forced to perform. However, the organization said only those who were willing to perform would do so.
Several members of the Rockettes came forward to talk about their concerns with the group taking part in the inaugural festivities, and eventually one member leaked a recording to Marie Claire of a discussion between members of the Rockettes and Madison Square Garden executive chairman James Dolan.
As Dolan tried to explain his decision to have the Rockettes perform for Trump, one dancer said, “It sounds like you’re asking us to be tolerant of intolerance.”
Dolan responded, “Yeah, in a way, I guess we are doing that.”
Before closing the meeting he offered something in the way of a “sound bite,” saying, “We’re celebrating a new president, not necessarily this president.”
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has performed at five past inaugural ceremonies, and in 2017, they are set for a sixth. The choir is an award-winning, volunteer institution within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The group is based out of Salt Lake City, Utah, and dates back to the founding of the Mormon Church.
It has some 360 members, but the decision to participate in Trump’s Inauguration caused one member to leave.
Jan Chamberlin said she was dropping out of the group and wrote on Facebook with reference to the inaugural performance: “I only know I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler.’ And I certainly could never sing for him.”
The biggest – and only so far – solo singer booked to perform at Trump’s inauguration is former “America’s Got Talent” contestant Jackie Evancho.
Like Trump, she is a former reality TV star. Unlike him, she is a sixteen-year-old woman with a charting record.
She appeared on the TV contest at just ten years old, eventually making it to second place. Since then she has recorded and released several albums. In 2010, she performed at the White House Christmas tree lighting and performed again for Obama at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast.
Despite her performing twice at Obama events, Trump cast her as part of his “movement” and correlated her agreement to perform at his Inauguration for her successful 2016 Christmas album.
“Jackie Evancho’s album sales have skyrocketed after announcing her Inauguration performance. Some people just don’t understand the ‘Movement,’” Trump tweeted.
The day before: Toby Keith, 3 Doors Down, Lee Greenwood
Trump’s inaugural committee announced several acts for a concert to kick things off the day before the inauguration itself.
On January 19, the committee says country starts Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood in addition to the band 3 Doors Down would highlight what the team is calling “The Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration.”
“Above all, it will serve as tribute to one of our greatest attributes, the peaceful transition of partisan power,” said chairman of the committee Tom Barrack in a statement.
The Piano Guys, The Frontmen of Country and others have also been slated for the kickoff event. Jon Voight, an actor and longtime attendee of major Republican events, was also set to stop by.
Sam Moore, one half of the soul duo Sam and Dave, announced on Tuesday that he would also perform at “The Make American Great Again! Welcome Celebration.” The duo was active from the 1960s through the 1980s and were inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1992, four years after Dave Prater’s death.
In the face of criticism against performers taking part in the inaugural festivities, Keith spoke out, saying he would not “apologize.”
“I performed at events for previous Presidents Bush and Obama and over 200 shows in Iraq and Afghanistan for the USO,” Keith told Entertainment Weekly.
Greenwood was best known for his song “God Bless the USA.” President George W. Bush appointed Greenwood to the National Council on the Arts, where he served a six-year term.
He has performed alongside Republican politicians several times in the past, including in a campaign video for then-presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio and at the 1988 Republican National Convention alongside President Ronald Reagan and first lady Nancy Reagan.
The inaugural committee also announced another pre-inaugural celebration, called “Voices of the People,” which the team said “will feature groups from the hundreds of applications received by the Presidential Inaugural Committee to take part in inaugural festivities.”
It said these included the DC Fire Department Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, the Republican Hindu Coalition, the Montgomery Area High School Marching Band and several others.
Who has turned it down, and who is still considering?
- Reports emerged that Sir Elton John had agreed to perform at the Inauguration, but representatives for the artist said he would not play.
- The Beach Boys also said they were invited to perform, but as of early January had not publicly announced their decision.
- Rebecca Ferguson, a former runner up on the UK’s “X-Factor” show, said she was offered an invitation to perform, but she said she would only do so if she could sing “Strange Fruit,” a song she said “speaks to all the disregarded and downtrodden black people in the United States.” Trump transition team has yet to publicly comment on whether Ferguson would perform.
- Jennifer Holliday, a singer and actress who has starred on Broadway, initially agreed to perform at the pre-Inauguration celebration, but later withdrew after a backlash from her fans. She said in a statement that she would not perform, writing to her fans: “I sincerely apologize for my lapse of judgement (sic).”
- The ‘B Street Band,’ a Bruce Springsteen cover band, pulled out of a performance at a New Jersey inaugural gala in deference to Springsteen, a noted Hillary Clinton supporter. In an interview with CNN’s Brooke Baldwin Tuesday, the band’s manager and keyboardist, Will Forte, said, “We were caught in a hurricane, just the frenzy was beyond anything we could ever expect.”
This story has been updated.