Recording artist Beyoncé will perform at the upcoming inauguration.
Planning for the 57th presidential inauguration has taken place largely behind closed doors in the previous months as contracts are signed, logistics are debated and security parameters are put into place. But as President Barack Obama’s Jan. 21 Capitol swearing-in ceremony draws near, the two main coordinating committees working to execute the big event are rolling out the details everyone’s been waiting for: Who’s going to sing, and what’s Obama going to eat?
The Presidential Inaugural Committee, which is responsible for the programming portion of the inaugural ceremony, announced Wednesday that mainstream music superstars Beyoncé, James Taylor and Kelly Clarkson will be performing the national anthem, “My Country Tis of Thee” and “America the Beautiful,” respectively.
It is not the first time Beyoncé has performed for or participated in Obama-related events. At a 2009 inaugural ball, she sang the Etta James classic “At Last” during the first couple’s first dance, and late last year, she and her husband, musician Jay-Z, hosted a fundraiser.
Taylor is not a stranger either: In 2011, Obama awarded him the National Medal of Arts at the White House.
The PIC also announced Wednesday that Richard Blanco will serve as the ceremony’s inaugural poet.
There have only been four inaugural poets before him: Robert Frost in 1961, Maya Angelou in 1993, Miller Williams in 1997 and Elizabeth Alexander in 2009. Still, Blanco will have the distinction of being the youngest inaugural poet to read at the ceremony, as well as the first Latino and the first gay man to serve in the role.
And then there’s the traditional luncheon that follows the swearing-in ceremony, where about 200 guests made up of Supreme Court justices, Cabinet members and congressional leadership will break bread in Statuary Hall with Obama, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and their families.
The Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, which is responsible for coordinating the logistics for inaugural events taking place on Capitol grounds, orchestrates the luncheon. This year, the creative choices also reflect the theme of “Faith in America’s Future,” conceived of by JCCIC Chairman Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., in recognition of the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Statue of Freedom’s installation atop the Capitol Dome.
The floral centerpiece will be a rose called the “Free Spirit,” and the flags flown over the Capitol during the swearing-in ceremony will be displayed on an iron table made for President Abraham Lincoln on the occasion of his second inauguration. The table was constructed from the same materials used for many of the decorative elements on the Capitol Dome.
Even the lunch’s menu, imagined by the JCCIC and Arlington, Va.-based catering company Design Cuisine, is in keeping with the theme. According to the committee’s Wednesday release, the food was chosen to highlight “American agricultural products that have long been popular in our cuisine” and “is a celebration of American farms and agriculture, with a nod to their bright future and continued place in our culture.”
Lois Lerner, director of exempt organizations for the IRS, arrives for a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on the investigation of the IRS' targeting of political groups. Lerner invoked her Fifth Amendment right to not testify and caused a protest from some committee members when she offered an opening statement and engaged in dialogue with members before invoking the right.
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