Obama Inaugural Concert: Josh Groban Sings with The Washington D. C. Gay Men’s Chorus
America’s first African-American president was serenaded by a large number of world-class performers at the nationally televised concert titled We Are One on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial two days before Obama’s inauguration. More than a few people at the National Mall on Sunday must have been reminiscing about the life of Marian Anderson, and just how amazed and proud she’d be. In 1939, Anderson, the famed American contralto, was banned from performing in the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Constitution Hall because of the color of her skin. So instead, she performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
Just short of 70 years later, another huge concert on those very steps blended joy, remembrance and unabashed patriotism in celebration of Tuesday’s inauguration of Barack Obama before an integrated audience of hundreds of thousands, including Obama and his wife, Michelle; their daughters, Malia and Sasha; Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Jill; and their extended families.
Queen Latifah told the story of Marian Anderson, the renowned African-American opera singer who in 1939 had been barred from performing at Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution. Anderson was subsequently invited to perform on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial by Eleanor Roosevelt, who resigned her D.A.R membership in protest. Anderson sang the American anthem “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” before an integrated audience of an estimated 75,000 people. Today’s crowd of more than 400,000 people watched a black-and-white film clip of Anderson’s stirring performance seven decades ago, when few would ever have imagined that the son of an African father and a mother from Kansas could be elected president of the United States.
Marian Anderson’s story was followed by a performance by Josh Groban and Heather Headley. They sang “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” in what was clearly meant to be a historic metaphor. In this groundbreaking symbolic moment, which was an open call of support for the freedom and rights of gay people, Groban and Headly were backed by members of the official Washington D. C. Gay Men’s Chorus, who were wearing the red AIDS ribbons pinned to their chests.
With very special thanks to Dave Valk.
Watch Josh Groban and Heather Headley sing with The Washington D. C. Gay Men’s Chorus:
Josh Groban Sings with The Washington D. C. Gay Men’s Chorus
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