Free Inaugural Concert to Feature LL Cool J, Tony Bennett and Oprah
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Whoopi Goldberg, Tony Bennett and Kenny Rogers are among an eclectic crowd of celebrities that will help launch Bill Clinton’s inaugural festivities in a free afternoon concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
″The Call for Reunion″ concert Jan. 17 will include performances by rapper LL Cool J, Diana Ross, Luther Vandross, Michael Bolton, Ray Charles, Bobby McFerrin, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin and Ben. E. King, organizers announced Thursday.
Cellist Yo-Yo Ma will perform, as will diva Kathleen Battle.
The 90-minute show, which is being produced by 25-time Grammy Award winner Quincy Jones, will blend dramatic readings of historic texts with musical performances.
″We’ve tried to create an inspirational program that reflects this historic moment and the strength of the American spirit through music and the written word,″ Jones said in a statement. ″Aside from enjoying some fine entertainment, those watching Sunday will capture a piece of American history.″
Goldberg will join a host of celebrity narrators, including Oprah Winfrey, Harry Belafonte, Ted Danson, James Earl Jones, Jack Nicholson, Sidney Poitier and Liv Ullmann, rapper Wil Smith and Michael Stipe of the rock group R.E.M.
Other musical performers include Stephen Stills, Melissa Ethridge, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Reuben Blades, Trisha Yearwood, Jon Secada and the 40-member gospel group Sounds of Blackness.
In honor of Clinton’s own musical abilities, the concert will feature a saxophone jam group including David Sanborn, Grover Washington Jr., Gerry Mulligan, Tom Scott, Michael Brecker, Dave Koz, Kirk Whalum and Gerald Albright.
Choirs from around the Washington area will also perform. They include the Chevy Chase (Md.) Elementary School Choir and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts Choir, the Eastern High School Choir, the Ebenezer AME Choir and the Howard University Choir, all from Washington.
The program is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m., and Clinton, Vice President- elect Al Gore and their families are expected to arrive soon afterward, following a bus trip from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello estate in Virginia.
After the concert, Clinton will lead a crowd across the Memorial Bridge. On the Virginia side, he will ring a replica of the Liberty Bell.
Then, bells across the country will begin to peal as well, and fireworks will be set off from barges in the Potomac River and other locations in Washington.
More concert performers will be announced later, organizers said.