Beyonce, Clarkson to perform at Obama inauguration
This undated handout photo provided by the University of Pittsburgh Press shows Richard Blanco. Blanco, 44, the son of Cuban exiles, is the 2013 inaugural poet, joining the ranks of Maya Angelou and Robert Frost, and will be the youngest-ever inaugural poet and the first Hispanic or gay to recite a poem at the ceremonial swearing-in. (AP Photo/Nikki Moustaki, University of Pittsburgh Press)
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama can expect some sweet serenades at his inauguration ceremony, with hit-makers Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor on tap to perform some of the country's most patriotic songs.
From Hollywood to Music Row, celebrities have been a staple of Obama's candidacy and presidency, so it was with little surprise that some of the biggest names in entertainment are helping him celebrate his Jan. 21 swearing-in.
Planners said Wednesday that Obama picked Beyonce to sing the national anthem, Clarkson to perform "My Country 'Tis of Thee" and Taylor to sing "America the Beautiful."
Beyonce and Taylor have been devoted Obama supporters. Beyonce sang the Etta James classic "At Last" for the president and first lady's dance at the inaugural balls four years ago and hosted a $4 million fundraiser for his re-election. Taylor sang at the White House in Obama's first term and at the Democratic National Convention last summer.
Clarkson, however, once said she was a fan of Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul for the 2012 race, although she said she voted Obama in 2008. She said on Twitter Wednesday that she is "excited & honored" to be performing at the inaugural.
Richard Blanco, the son of Cuban exiles, is the 2013 inaugural poet, joining a select group that includes Maya Angelou and the late Robert Frost. Blanco's works explore his family's exile from Cuba and "the intersection of his cultural identities as a Cuban-American gay man," inauguration planners announced. They said Blanco, 44, will be the youngest-ever inaugural poet and the first Hispanic or gay to recite a poem at the ceremonial swearing-in.
FILE - This May 7, 2012 file photo shows Beyonce Knowles at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute gala benefit in New York. Beyonce will sing the national anthem at President Barack Obama's inauguration ceremony. The committee planning the Jan. 21 event also announced Wednesday that Kelly Clarkson will perform "My Country `Tis of Thee" and James Taylor will sing "America the Beautiful" at the swearing-in ceremony on the Capitol's west front. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File)
"His contributions to the fields of poetry and the arts have already paved a path forward for future generations of writers," Obama said in a statement. "Richard's writing will be wonderfully fitting for an inaugural that will celebrate the strength of the American people and our nation's great diversity."
Obama also gave a nod to the diversity of styles and backgrounds of the musical performers, saying that "their music is often at the heart of the American story and speaks to folks across the country."
Blanco said in the statement that he was "brimming over with excitement, awe, and gratitude" at being selected.