Katy Perry, Alicia Keys set to play at Obama's inaugural ball
Alicia Keys attends the MTV Video Music Awards on Thursday, Sept. 6, 2012, in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)
Published Friday, January 11, 2013 9:21AM EST
WASHINGTON -- U.S. President Barack Obama is drawing top performers for this month's inaugural festivities that include a gala expected to draw more than 35,000 revelers.
Katy Perry, Smokey Robinson, Usher, Alicia Keys and Brad Paisley are among the stars planning to sing at Obama's inaugural galas Jan. 21 and a children's concert Jan. 19. Also signed up are Marc Anthony, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and the cast of "Glee."
The performers join top talent already announced for Obama's inaugural ceremony Jan. 21 in Washington, including Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor.
Other event performers include pop-rap foursome Far East Movement, Grammy-nominated pop-rock trio fun., R&B boy band Mindless Behavior, rapper Nick Cannon and youth gospel choir Soul Children of Chicago. Inaugural organizers aren't saying yet which performances will be at which event.
While Obama has cut the number of inaugural balls to their lowest since Dwight Eisenhower was first sworn into office in 1953, the two celebrations will be elaborate. The larger of the events, simply called The Inaugural Ball, is expected to draw more than 35,000 to toast Obama's second term.
The second event is the Commander In Chief's Ball, a tradition started by President George W. Bush to honour the military. It's doubling in size from four years ago to about 4,000.
Demand has been high for entry to the two official affairs, even though city officials are predicting a drop in attendance to 600,000 to 800,000 for the inauguration this year compared with 2009, when a record 1.8 million crowded onto the National Mall to see the first black president sworn into office.
Those who can't get into the convention hall with the Obamas can still carouse into the night at several unofficial balls across Washington. And members of the president's staff will get their own chance to celebrate with the president, with a staff ball planned for the day after the inauguration. Last year, the private affair was reportedly quite a bash, according to one attendee, with rap star Jay-Z singing a riff on one of his hit songs, "99 Problems but George Bush Ain't One," to the delight of young staffers.
Inaugural planners said the cut in the number of balls was to reflect tough economic times and minimize the burden on law enforcement, other security personnel and Washington residents.