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Inauguration Concert: Donald Trump’s Festivities Begin With Jon Voight, Sam Moore

Variety logo Variety 1/19/2017 Ted Johnson

President-elect Donald Trump’s inaugural festivities began in earnest on Thursday with a live concert at the Lincoln Memorial, where Toby Keith, Lee Greenwood and Jon Voight were on the bill. The event — officially called the Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration — was also streamed online.

© Provided by Variety “We have all been witness to a very grueling year and half for the president elect,” Voight said at the outset. He added that “we all wondered if God could reverse the barrage of negative lies” made about Trump during the campaign.

“He certainly didn’t need this job, and yes, God answered all of our prayers, because here it is. We will be part of history. All of us,” Voight told the crowd, who stretched down the National Mall along the reflecting pool toward the Washington Monument.

He referred to the monument behind him and said that Lincoln would be smiling at the moment, knowing “America will be saved by an honest and good man who will work for all the people.”

Then Sam Moore, best known for “Soul Man,” sang “America the Beautiful” with a choir backup and asked the crowd to join with him. DJ Ravi Drums opened the concert, and it also featured the Army Fife and Drum Corps.

About 20 minutes into the concert, Trump and his wife Melania walked down the steps of the Memorial as recorded music of the Rolling Stones’ “Heart of Stone.” They then took their seats with the rest of the Trump family.

Much focus had been paid during Trump’s transition as to who he would line up for the ceremony, given the lopsided support that Hillary Clinton enjoyed among musicians and other artists. Sources say that a number of Trump associates and friends reached out, including Steve Wynn, to many in the industry to perform, but a number have declined. Showbiz figures such as Garth Brooks, Celine Dion and Elton John reportedly declined invites, and Jennifer Holliday, announced last week as one of the performers, dropped out of the event on Saturday. She cited negative reaction from some of her fans.

Also performing were the Frontmen of Country — Tim Rushlow, Larry Stewart and Richie McDonald, all chart-topping country singers who did a medley of some of their hits. Rushlow, who has also is forging a career as a big band singer, will sing for the Trumps’ first dance at one of the inaugural balls on Friday.

They finished their set by singing part of “God Bless the USA,” Lee Greenwood’s hit, before Greenwood joined them on stage to sing it with them.

Later, 3 Doors Down sang “The Broken,” “When I’m Gone” and “Kryptonite.”

How Singers Lee Greenwood, Tim Rushlow Prepared For the Inauguration Performances: 



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