Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez to perform at Biden’s inauguration

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Pop superstar Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez will headline President-elect Joe Biden’s and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ swearing-in ceremony, the Presidential Inaugural Committee has announced.

Gaga, who has a history of activism alongside Biden and campaigned for him during the general election, will perform the national anthem while there will be a musical performance by Lopez, who has used her voice during the coronavirus pandemic to speak out against its disproportionate toll on minority communities.

Other participants include Amanda Gorman, the first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate who will deliver the poetry reading, and Andrea Hall, the president of the International Association of Firefighters Local 3920 in Fulton County, Georgia, who will deliver the Pledge of Allegiance.

Hall is also the first Black woman in the department’s history to be promoted to the rank of Fire Captain, per the inauguration committee. IAFF was the first union to back Biden in the primary when he first launched his campaign.

Father Leo J. O’Donovan, a long-time friend of the Bidens and a former Georgetown University president, will deliver the invocation. Reverend Dr. Silvester Beaman, Pastor of Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Biden’s hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, will give the benediction.

“They represent one clear picture of the grand diversity of our great nation and will help honor and celebrate the time-honored traditions of the presidential inauguration as President-elect Biden and Vice President-elect Harris take the oath of office on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol,” inaugural committee CEO Tony Allen said of the participants in a statement.

“They are also committed to the President-elect and the Vice-President-elect’s steadfast vision of a new chapter in our American story in which we are an America united in overcoming the deep divisions and challenges facing our people, unifying the country, and restoring the soul of our nation.”

Security has stepped up in Washington against threats by extremist supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump after they attacked the US Capitol last week in a bid to overturn the results of the election.

Local authorities are asking people to stay away from the ceremonies to lessen the chances of unrest, and of the swearing-in turning into a Covid-19 superspreader event.

Instead, Biden’s inaugural committee said that it will broadcast five days of programming under the theme “America United” which “will honor inaugural traditions while safely allowing more Americans than ever before to participate from their own homes.”

The calendar includes “United We Serve,” a National Day of Service on January 18, Martin Luther King Jr. Day; a nationwide COVID-19 Memorial to Lives Lost on January 19; and wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery on Inauguration Day.

In place of the hundreds of thousands of people who usually crowd the National Mall for the inauguration, the committee will install a “Field of Flags” which it said will “represent the American people who are unable to travel.”

The 90-minute “Celebrating America” inauguration show will be hosted by Tom Hanks and feature more musical performances, from Jon Bon Jovi, Justin Timberlake, and Demi Lovato, and will be broadcast on all major US networks, US media reported.

Read Also: Joe Biden unveils $1.9tn US economic relief package

Gaga and Lopez will perform during the ceremony itself, held on the steps of the Capitol building, which still bears the scars of the January 6 attack.

Gaga has been a vocal supporter of Biden, appearing at his campaign finale in Pittsburgh in November; while Lopez has been outspoken in recent months about Covid-19 relief efforts.

Some 20,000 National Guard soldiers are expected in Washington for Biden’s inauguration. The capital is already under heavy security, with much of downtown fenced off and under guard.

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked visitors to stay home due to the raging pandemic, and Airbnb has banned bookings in the capital around the time of the inauguration.

Aretha Franklin sang at Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, while Beyonce performed at his second four years later.