When Moana star Auli’i Cravalho performed her Oscar-nominated, Lin-Manuel Miranda-penned anthem, “How Far I’ll Go” at the Academy Awards in February, she earned rave reviews for her singing voice — and for keeping the show going even after getting bonked on the head by a flagpole. Fair warning to the Hawaiian actress: There will be lots of flags and flagpoles present at her next gig, belting out “The Star-Spangled Banner” at PBS’s National Memorial Day Concert, broadcast live from the U.S. Capitol’s West Lawn on Sunday, May 28. Backed by the National Symphony Orchestra and pops conductor, Jack Everly, Cravalho’s performance should be an early highlight of the concert’s 28th year. “I’m proud to be singing the National Anthem at our Nation’s Capitol this Memorial Day weekend,” the actress tells Yahoo TV via email. “It’s an honor to pay tribute to all those who have bravely served our country.”
Gracing the stage for his 12th time as host, Joe Mantegna will share emcee duties with Laurence Fishburne as they introduce musical acts and poignant tributes to American veterans. Opera singer Renée Fleming will be on hand to present a dramatic re-enactment of the story of Captain Luis Avila, a wounded veteran (played onscreen by John Ortiz, opposite Devious Maids star, Ana Ortiz, as Avila’s wife, Claudia) who has used musical therapy to recover from a battlefield injury. Other historical segments will include Gary Sinise’s celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid–a World War II bombing mission that reversed the fortunes of Allied troops in the Pacific–while Fishburne will pay tribute to another famous group of flyboys, the Tuskagee Airmen, the first African-American aviators to pilot planes during wartime.
The singing portion of the evening, meanwhile, will start with George Washington himself, Tony-winning Hamilton star, Christopher Jackson, who provides the concert’s opening number. Fleming will also stick around after the Captain Avila segment to perform a song, followed later on in the evening by tunes sung by the likes of Vanessa Williams, Scotty McCreery, Russell Watson, Five for Fighting’s John Ondrasik and Ronan Tynan, who will honor Jerry Colbert, the recently deceased founder of Capital Concerts, which produces both the National Memorial Day Concert and the annual Independence Day event, A Capitol Fourth.
The National Memorial Day Concert airs Sunday, May 28 at 8 p.m. on PBS