Donald Trump is about to become the 45th president of the United States, and a wide variety of musicians will perform during the inauguration festivities.
The events will kick off on Thursday, January 19th, when Donald Trump and Mike Pence will lay a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery. That same day, there will be a concert on the National Mall called “Voices of the People,” which will consist of performances from the following groups: the DC Fire Department Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, King’s Academy Honor Choir, the Republican Hindu Coalition, Montgomery Area High School Marching Band, Marlana Van Hoose, Maury NJROTC Color Guard, Pride of Madawaska, Webelos Troop 177, Northern Middle School Honors Choir, American Tap Company, South Park and District Pipe Band, Everett High School Viking Marching Band, TwirlTasTix Baton Twirling, and Celtic United Pipes and Drums.
Immediately after this event, there will be another concert on the National Mall called the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration.” This one features some more well known musicians, and President-elect Trump will deliver remarks.
The inauguration ceremony itself occurs on Friday, January 20th, and a few singers and performances have been lined up. That night, Trump will attend three inaugural balls: the Liberty Ball, the Freedom Ball, and the Salute to Our Armed Services ball.
Here’s a look at everyone who will perform during this week’s inauguration events.
Toby Keith is a singer and songwriter who has previously performed at the Republican National Convention. He has not said all that much about what he thinks of President-elect Donald Trump, although in an August 2016 interview with the Chicago Tribune, he suggested that both Trump and Clinton were equally bad candidates.
“This election, I don’t think it makes a difference,” Keith said. “I can’t believe there’s 300 million Americans in this country, and we’ve got these two as our final two. It’s absolutely crazy.”
Keith also told the Chicago Tribune that he is a registered Independent; he added that he was a Democrat for his entire life but that the party started to disown him when he began to support the troops.
In a 2009 interview with CNN, Keith said the biggest misconception about him is that he is “a lifetime Republican, right-wing Nazi guy.”
“If that’s their perception of me, that’s fine,” Keith said. “But you can’t support the troops and be for national health care; that’s illegal in this country. You’re either right or you’re left, buddy.”
Keith mentions there that he is in favor of national health care, although he went on to say that not everybody deserves to have health care.
“I don’t think every single American citizen deserves to have national health care…if you’re sitting around drinking beer, talking on your cell phone, smoking cigarettes, sitting on the porch and not trying, I don’t know if you deserve it,” he said.
Keith also told CNN that he thinks the United States needs to secure the border but that “I’ve been around Mexicans my whole life, and they are wonderful people. They’re very family-oriented, very religious — a lot of them — they have great family values. They’re hard, hard-working people.”
3 Doors Down
The most well-known band that will perform at the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration!” concert on January 19th is 3 Doors Down, the rock group made up of Brad Arnold, Chris Henderson, Greg Upchurch, Chet Roberts, and Justin Biltonen.
Originally formed in 1996, this band is known for songs like “Kryptonite,” “When I’m Gone” and “Here Without You.” They have sold more than 16 million albums worldwide over the course of their career, according to MTV.
3 Doors Down performed at the 2012 Republican National Convention, though they did not perform at the 2016 convention.
The band took to Instagram last week to announce their participation in the “Make America Great Again!’ Welcome Celebration” concert. The post was immediately flooded with comments decrying the band’s decision.
“Good luck getting any gigs after this,” one user commented. “I guess when you’re a washed up band you’ll do anything for a buck.” Another Instagram user said, “Wow, what a sad and pathetic excuse to try and become relevant again. Newsflash: you’re about as popular as Nickelback.”
Still, 3 Doors Down received some support. One fan wrote on the Instagram post, “You guys are allowed to have an opinion, as is everyone else. Whether people agree with that is irrelevant…I can’t understand why being paid to do your job by performing at this show, that some fans are now suggesting that they are going to stop buying your records and supporting you.”
The Piano Guys
The Piano Guys, a group that rose to prominence thanks to their YouTube covers of popular songs, will perform at the inauguration.
This group consists of Jon Schmidt, Steven Sharp Nelson, Paul Anderson and Al van der Beek. They posted their first YouTube video in 2010 and have since released five albums, each of which reached number one on Billboard’s Classical Albums chart. Many of their YouTube videos, including a cover of the song “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen, have received over 30 million views.
Following the election of Donald Trump, The Piano Guys posted a message on their website titled “Make Music Great Again!” It doesn’t really talk much about the election itself, but instead, the band says that they believe music needs to be more positive going forward.
“[W]ouldn’t it be better to hear more positive lyrics on the radio? To make radio music as ‘great’ as we can?” the post reads. “Music with words that get us looking up and looking forward rather than down and back. Hey, we could all use a little more positivity, couldn’t we? Especially since political mud-slinging has had its hog-share of the airwaves lately!”
The group released a statement on their website this week explaining their decision to perform at the inauguration.
“First, you need to know that when we were invited to perform we made it a matter of serious prayer and deep soul searching,” they said. “We’ve found that our music has offered the most optimism when we’ve had the opportunity to perform for people who may not completely agree with who we are or what we stand for.”
They also said that they “are distraught and despondent over how divisive this chapter in our nation’s politics has been.”
The Piano Guys will actually be performing for Donald Trump a second time on Friday, when they will play for Trump at an official inaugural ball.
Next up for the January 19th inaugural concert is Lee Greenwood, a country music singer.
Greenwood is known primarily for his song “God Bless the USA,” which was originally written in the ’80s but which received a major boost in popularity in the years after September 11th. It’s probably the most well-known patriotic song ever written, and it was frequently played at Trump rallies during the 2016 election. Greenwood has also written songs like “Somebody’s Gonna Love You,” “Dixie Road,” and “Hearts Aren’t Made to Break (They’re Made to Love).”
Greenwood describes himself as a “conservative Christian,” according to Rolling Stone, and he supported Donald Trump’s opponent Marco Rubio during the Republican presidential primary; he sang “God Bless the USA” at a Rubio campaign rally in February 2016. The Rubio campaign also used the song in a campaign ad in January 2016. This was around the same time that Marco Rubio was calling Donald Trump a con artist whose election would be detrimental to the country.
“This is the most important government job on the planet. And we’re about to turn over the conservative movement to a person that has no ideas of any substance on the important issues,” Rubio said in February 2016. The nuclear codes of the United States — to an erratic individual — and the conservative movement — to someone who has spent a career sticking it to working people.”
Responding to the other celebrities who are boycotting the inauguration, Greenwood told Fox Business this week, “The election is over. I think we all need to get behind the president as we have done every election prior.”
He told CNN that he doesn’t consider performing at the inauguration to be a political statement and that he’s really performing more for the people in Washington, D.C. rather than for the president.
Greenwood made clear in an interview with Rolling Stone, though, that he is a personal fan of Donald Trump’s and believes he will do well.
“I think he’s going to be a great president,” Greenwood said. “I love his slogan, ‘Let’s make America great again,’ and I’m confident that he’ll take a good shot at it…I don’t think there’s any doubt that Donald Trump, our President-elect, is a patriot. He’s a businessman, and I think he’s going to do the best for our country economically.”
Greenwood previously performed at the inauguration of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.
Sam Moore was the tenor vocalist for Sam & Dave from 1961 through 1981. He is a Grammy-award-winning singer and a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame, and the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.
Moore has also expressed some admiration for President-elect Donald Trump.
“He’s got a big mouth, like me,” Moore said, according to The Daily Beast. “Whether you agree with him or not, he’s going to say what’s on his mind.”
Moore added that he will not drop out of the event like some other singers have, explaining, “I am not going to let them, the left side, intimidate me from doing what I feel is the right thing to do for the country and that [presidential] seal.”
RaviDrums, a DJ whose real name is Ravi Jakhotia, will perform at the inaugural concert as well.
In addition to working as a DJ for private events, Jakhotia has had experience as a drummer, having played for the bands Crimson Glory and The Last Goodnight. In 2009, he served as musical director for the NBC series Howie Do It starring Howie Mandel.
Jakhotia has performed at major events like the Super Bowl, the Academy Awards, and the Emmys.
But if there’s one thing most people will recognize Jakhotia from, it’s his role as the guy who played the virtual drums during Nintendo’s infamous Wii Music presentation at E3 2008. This presentation of the company’s upcoming game was considered to be one of the worst in E3 history, and a Google search of the term “Wii Music drummer” will turn up hundreds of gifs and memes of Ravi Jakhotia passionately swinging the Wii remote and nunchuck.
The Frontmen of Country
The Frontmen of Country have been booked for the inauguration, and they are expected to perform at the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration.” This is a country music group consisting of Tim Rushlow, Larry Stewart, and Richie McDonald.
Tim Rushlow was the lead vocalist of the country music band Little Texas in the 1990s; he began a solo career after the band broke up in 1997. He has released two albums: Tim Rushlow in 2001 and Unfinished Symphony in 2011. (Tim will also be performing at one of the inaugural balls on Friday.)
Larry Stewart was the lead singer of the country music band Restless Heart from 1984 through 1993. He left the band to start a solo career, and he has since released four albums: Down the Road, Heart Like a Hurricane, Why Can’t You, and Learning to Breathe.
Richie McDonald was the lead singer of the country music group Lonestar from 1992 until 2007. He then rejoined the band in 2011 and is currently their lead vocalist.
Jackie Evancho, a 16-year-old America’s Got Talent contestant, will be singing the “Star Spangled Banner” at the inauguration ceremony itself.
“I am so excited,” Evancho said in a Today show interview. “It’s going to be awesome. I felt really honored to be able to sing for the office. It’s a great honor for me.”
Evancho first gained recognition in 2009, when she finished second place in the 15th annual USA World Showcase Talent Competition in Las Vegas. She was only 10 years old when she was a contestant on America’s Got Talent. Since then, she has released six albums, including one platinum and one gold album. During her 2011 Dream With Me tour, she became the youngest artist to perform a solo concert at Lincoln Center.
“We’re delighted to have Jackie Evancho performing the National Anthem at the 58th Presidential Inaugural Ceremony,” Presidential Inaugural Committee Director of Communications Boris Epshteyn said in a statement. “As the youngest solo artist to ever go platinum, she is a true role model and inspiration for people young and old in our country and around the globe. Jackie represents the best and the brightest of America.”
This is Evancho’s first time singing at an inauguration, but it will not be her first time performing for the president, as in 2010, she sang at the National Christmas Tree lighting and met President Barack Obama.
Jackie Evancho has faced criticism for agreeing to perform for Donald Trump, as has virtually every single artist that has been booked for the inauguration. On Twitter earlier this month, President-elect Trump said that Jackie Evancho’s album sales have skyrocketed since her inauguration performance was announced. Her album sales have indeed increased recently, although it’s not clear if Trump is the main reason for that; Evancho has a Christmas album out, and so it’s natural to expect album sales to receive a boost around the holidays.
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
In addition, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir will sing at the swearing-in ceremony this year, the group announced.
The choir has previously performed at the inauguration of George H.W. Bush, Richard Nixon, and Lyndon Johnson. They also sang at an inaugural parade for George W. Bush.
“The Mormon Tabernacle Choir has a great tradition of performing at the inaugurals of U. S. presidents,” Ron Jarrett, president of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, said in a statement. “Singing the music of America is one of the things we do best. We are honored to be able to serve our country by providing music for the inauguration of our next president.”
Ronald Reagan once referred to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as “America’s Choir,” and George H. W. Bush called them a “national treasure.” The group, which is a part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, consists of 360 volunteer singers. It was originally founded in 1847.
The choir has been criticized for participating in the inauguration, and one of its singers, Jan Chamberlin, quit the group in protest.
“I only know I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler,'” Chamberlin wrote on Facebook. “And I certainly could never sing for him.”
According to polling from Pew Research, Trump received 61 percent of the Mormon vote in the 2016 election.
The Radio City Rockettes
The Radio City Rockettes will also be performing at the inauguration, Presidential Inaugural Committee Communications Director Boris Epshteyn revealed in a CNN interview. The Rockettes previously performed at the inauguration of George W. Bush in 2001 and again in 2005, and this year, they will be featured at the inaugural ball.
“The Radio City Rockettes, an original American brand, have performed at Radio City Music Hall since 1932 and, as treasured American icons, have taken part in some of the nation’s most illustrious events such as Super Bowl halftime shows, Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parades and presidential inaugurations, including in 2001 and 2005,” James Dolan, executive chairman of The Madison Square Garden Company, said in a statement. “We are honored that the Rockettes have again been asked to perform in the upcoming inauguration festivities.”
Some within the theater community have chastised the Radio City Rockettes for agreeing to perform at the inauguration.
One member of the Rockettes, Phoebe Pearl, recently complained on Instagram about the decision of her employer to participate in the inauguration.
Pearl’s account has since been made private, but here’s what she originally wrote, via The New York Daily News:
I usually don’t use social media to make a political stand but I feel overwhelmed with emotion. Finding out that it has been decided for us that Rockettes will be performing at the Presidential inauguration makes me feel embarrassed and disappointed. The women I work with are intelligent and are full of love and the decision of performing for a man that stands for everything we’re against is appalling. I am speaking for just myself but please know that after we found out this news, we have been performing with tears in our eyes and heavy hearts. We will not be forced! #notmypresident
The Missouri State University Chorale
The Missouri State University Chorale will sing at the inauguration ceremony.
This group actually announced their involvement in the inauguration back in October, long before it was known who would be sworn in on January 20th. They will be performing an original song called “Now We Belong,” which was written by Michael Dennis Browne.
“We are honored that the Missouri State University Chorale has been selected to perform at the inauguration,” Missouri State President Clifton M. Smart III said in a statement in October. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for Chorale students to take part in an important and historic event.”
The Talladega College Marching Band & More
Another major inauguration event will be the inaugural parade, which takes place on January 20th. The Presidential Inaugural Committee recently revealed the list of groups that will be marching, although they said more names may be added.
The list includes the Talladega College Marching Band, the band of a historically black college in Alabama whose participation in the parade has been the subject of controversy.
The inaugural parade will also feature:
- 1st Cavalry Division Horse Cavalry Detachment
- 1st Infantry Division Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard
- Boone County Elite 4-H Equestrian Drill Team
- Caisson Platoon, Fort Myer
- Cleveland Police Mounted Unit
- Coastal Florida Police & Fire Pipes & Drums
- Columbus North High School Band
- Culver Academy Equestrian
- First Troop Philadelphia City Cavalry
- Fishburne Military School Army JROTC Caissons Battalion
- Frankfort High School Band
- Franklin Regional High School Panther Marching Band
- Indianapolis Metro Police Motorcycle Drill Team
- Lil Wranglers
- Marist College Band
- Merced County Sheriff’s Posse
- Michigan Multi-Jurisdictional Mounted Police Drill Team & Color Guard
- Mid America Cowgirls Rodeo Drill Team
- Nassau County Firefighters Pipes & Drums
- North Carolina Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association
- NYPD Emerald Society Pipes & Drums
- Olivet Nazarene University’s Tiger Marching Band
- Palmetto Ridge High School Band
- Russellville High School Band
- Talladega College Band
- Texas State University Strutters
- The Citadel Regimental Band & Pipes and Summerall Guards
- The Freedom Riders
Tupelo High School Band
- University of Tennessee Marching Band
- VMI Corps of Cadets
- West Monroe High School Marching Band
For more information, check out our breakdown of each of the groups participating in the parade:
After the inaugural parade, Donald Trump will attend three inaugural balls. These galas are where some of the big names often perform; in 2009, Beyoncé sang for Barack and Michelle Obama.
The first artist who has been booked for the official inaugural ball is Tim Rushlow, who will be the one to sing as Donald and Melania Trump have their first dance as president and first lady.
This is the second inaugural event Rushlow is signed on for, as he’s also performing in the inaugural concert on Thursday.
Rushlow is a country music artist who was the lead singer of Little Texas from 1991 to 1997. He told BuzzFeed News that he will be playing the music of Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin at this inaugural ball, though he did not reveal what the Trumps’ first song will be.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Rushlow said he doesn’t consider his performance to be much of a political statement.
“I think the only political statement I’m making is that I love my country enough to look past — whether I voted for Trump or I didn’t vote for Trump, whether I voted for Hillary or didn’t vote for Hillary, whether I’m hot on one topic or hot on the other — to just say, look, ‘I just want to support my country,'” he said.
Rushlow added that he’s inclined to accept an invitation to perform at any sort of government event and that he has also performed at the Democratic National Convention.
Pelican 212 is a family horn band made up of five children from Nashville, Tennessee. The kids range in age from 10 to 14, and they sometimes perform with their oldest sister, who is 33, according to WGNO.
The kids live in Tennessee but also occasionally perform in New Orleans. Earlier this year, Max and Kolbe Rees, the band’s twin brothers, appeared on an episode of NBC’s Little Big Shots.
Travis Greene, a pastor and gospel music singer, will also sing at the inauguration of Donald Trump. This is one of the most recent artists to be added to the lineup, with his name being added this past week.
Greene has released two studio albums: Stretching Out and The Hill. He runs Forward City, a church in South Carolina, with his wife. He told TMZ this week that he believes going to the inauguration is what Jesus would do.
“I believe [Jesus] would go,” he said. “And that’s what I’m doing, man, I’m just taking his love.”
Along with The Piano Guys, Lexi Walker is another singer who gained recognition thanks to YouTube and who will be performing at the official inaugural ball.
Walker is a 13 year old singer best known for appearing as Elsa in Alex Boyé’s cover of Let It Go, which racked up 84 million views on YouTube. She has also performed at soccer games, and she sang earlier this year at the National Republican Congressional Committee March Dinner.
According to Deseret News, Walker is from Sandy, Utah; she did not take music lessons as a kid, but rather learned from her grandmother, who was a music teacher.
The next artist to perform at the official inaugural ball is Erin Boheme.
Boheme is a jazz singer from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. She has released two albums: What Love Is and What a Life, the latter of which was produced by Michael Bublé.
She originally signed with Concord Music Group when she was 17, according to her Concord Music bio, and Michael Bublé eventually discovered her.
“After hearing a few examples of the songs I wrote, Bublé and John Burk [Chief Creative Officer and label head for Concord] encouraged me to keep writing,” Boheme said of her album What a Life. “So the album developed into a more raw, very singer-songwriter type of project: a chronicle of my life so far.”
The Salute to Our Armed Services Ball will feature a performance from Tony Orlando.
Orlando is known for being the lead singer of the ’70s band Tony Orlando and Dawn. The group hosted a variety program on CBS in the ’70s called the Tony Orlando and Dawn Show, and Orlando also hosted the MDA Labor Day Telethon on WWOR-TV in New York City for years.
“I have been asked if I would be kind enough to perform, and it is an honor and a privilege to do that,” Orlando told the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Josh Weathers will perform at the Salute to Our Armed Services Ball as well.
Weathers is a 32-year-old singer from Texas. He performed what he said would be his last show in 2014, but he returned earlier this year in order to raise funds for an orphanage in India, according to Guide Live. Weathers traveled to India in 2014 and subsequently became devoted to helping young women there avoid a life of being sold into sexual slavery. He and his wife also adopted a young Indian girl, Kady.
Weathers says that when he and his wife originally traveled to India in 2014 it “broke our hearts. When you go there and see the massive amount of poverty and the children who have no homes…They rock your world. You meet a mother in a slum village. She comes up to you, holding a 5-month-old child who weighs 8 pounds and she’s begging you with tears in her eyes to take her baby to America. That is love. That is a whole ‘nother level of love.”
The most recent name to be announced as part of the inauguration performances was Chrisette Michele.
News of Michele’s involvement in the inauguration came not from an official announcement but from a report in The New York Daily News. Michele reportedly wanted to keep this information under wraps for as long as possible to avoid the backlash other artists have experienced.
Finally, though, Michele released a statement on Friday confirming her involvement in the inauguration and explaining why she said yes. Here’s what she wrote on her personal website on Friday:
“My heart is broken for our country, for the hopes of our children, for the fights of those who came before us.
I cry at the thought that Black History, American History might be in vain.
This country has had great moments. God has shined His light upon us.
Today, I hope that Great Moments begin in peaceful & progressive conversation. I am willing to be a bridge. I don’t mind “These Stones”, if they allow me to be a voice for the voiceless.
I am here.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Our lives begin to end, the day we become silent about what matters,”.
I am here, representing you, because this is what matters.”
The Wrap reported in December that President-elect Donald Trump is very unhappy that his staff has not been able to book any major stars for his inauguration. The president-elect himself weighed in on Twitter shortly after that story broke, saying that he doesn’t want A-list celebrities at all.
A number of artists, including Elton John, Céline Dion and Andrea Bocelli, have declined to participate in the event.
In a recent interview with Fox News, Trump again said that he doesn’t want celebrities at the inauguration.
“Many of the celebrities that are saying they were not going, they were never invited,” Trump said. “I don’t want the celebrities, I want the people. And we have the biggest celebrities in the world there.”
However, the only person Trump named as being in that category of “biggest celebrities in the world” was President Obama.
Read more about Donald Trump’s inauguration in Spanish at AhoraMismo.com: