Kids' Concert Added to Inauguration Lineup

By Richard Leiby and Nikita Stewart
Washington Post Staff Writers
Saturday, December 20, 2008

It's a young people's inauguration, too. That was the message President-elect Barack Obama relayed yesterday with his inaugural committee's announcement of a free "concert for America's children" on Jan. 19 at Verizon Center.

Other facts were few -- the committee released no names of performers -- but it seems fair to assume that the show might appeal to a demographic that includes girls of a certain age. Say, oh, 10 and 7, which happen to be the respective ages of Michelle and Barack Obama's daughters, Malia and Sasha.

"We don't have anybody confirmed at this point," Presidential Inaugural Committee spokesman Josh Earnest said. And, of course, he wouldn't speculate on whether Miley Cyrus, star of the Disney Channel smash "Hannah Montana," a show the Obama girls are known to enjoy, might be a potential performer.

"I don't know," he said, offering only that the lineup will include "whatever the kids are listening to today."

So let your musical imaginations run wild. The Sippy Cups? Taylor Swift? The Jonas Brothers? Rihanna? Fleet Foxes?

"There's not an age range that we have in mind," Earnest said.

The concert, to be held Monday evening before the swearing-in, marks another effort to put on events appealing to a wide range of people during the five days of inaugural festivities that will begin with Obama's train ride from Philadelphia to Washington on Jan. 17 and end on Jan. 21 with a traditional prayer service.

The committee also announced that a welcome ceremony scheduled for Sunday, Jan. 18, will be held at the Lincoln Memorial to honor the 16th president.

"Sunday's welcome event and Monday's concert will continue President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden's commitment to hold an Inauguration that is open, accessible and reflects a spirit of unity for Americans of all ages," the committee said in a statement.

The youth concert, though free, will require tickets, but the release schedule and method for obtaining tickets also remain to be announced. (When? "In the coming weeks," said the news release.) Though Obama has been filling important administration posts at a rapid clip, we're sorry to report that there's been no appointment yet of an official entertainment czar.

Parties and balls for Obama's inauguration will attract musical stars from many genres, but geared to those of imbibing age. Announced acts include Sting, Elvis Costello, Young Jeezy, Ashley Judd, Mary J. Blige, T.I., Chaka Khan, Melissa Etheridge and LL Cool J.

Aretha Franklin, Itzhak Perlman and Yo-Yo Ma will perform at Obama's swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 20.

For his 1993 inaugural, the sax-playing Bill Clinton created a five-day celebration that included outdoor concerts with lots of drinking and dancing. An estimated 300,000 people attended Clinton's Sunday welcome, called "America's Reunion on the Mall," that stretched from the Lincoln Memorial eastward. Performers included Franklin, Diana Ross, Bob Dylan, Tony Bennett, Al Green, Kathleen Battle and many others. Clinton also held two children's programs.

In 2001, president-elect Bush kicked off his inaugural festivities at the Lincoln Memorial with a free concert that featured performances by Ricky Martin and Charlotte Church.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company