Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Presidential inauguration's music, poetry enhance a historic day

Lady Gaga's moving rendition of the National Anthem set the tone for a day of musical celebration.
Music highlighted the inauguration, ending the day with a concert by well known musicians.


Editor's Note: We're publishing early this week because of tremendous interest in the Presidential Inaugural.  Happy reading. And please share the link. It's been read in Asia, Australia, South America and Europe. Apparently the world is watching! 


Garth Brooks sang  a lovely a capella
version of "Amazing Grace."  
FOR THIS performance deprived redhead, Wednesday's inauguration was a fulfilling feast for the eyes, ears and heart.
Ample pomp and circumstance -- influenced by our English and European roots -- was accented with  Yankee spunk and innovation, making it a truly American "concert." A United Nations of participants paraded before us. It was a day of diversity and drama, with many touching moments, all accompanied by music.
The message of hope and unity was a musical joy to behold. From the stately U.S. Marine Band, with its precisely delivered military marches, to actor Tom Hanks introducing a raft of the country's best musical talents at a special "Celebrating America" concert from the Lincoln Memorial, music was the glue that held the glorious day together.
Lady Gaga was escorted
to the stage for the anthem.
MUSIC ENHANCED the snow peppered morning ceremony at the Capitol, in which Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris took their oaths becoming U.S. President and Vice President. At day's end, music capped the dramatic day via a beautifully orchestrated concert from the night-lit Mall, Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument.
The U.S. Marine Band lead the activities, from
the swearing in to the walk to the White House.
At the inaugural, Lady Gaga's singing of the National Anthem was a stirring symbol of the nation's longed for transformation. Resplendent in red skirt, navy blue coat with white-gold olive branch and dove jewels, she sang our nation's anthem with emotion. Her arrangement was perfect -- slow and deliberate -- no reverberations. She sang with elegance and  eloquence, preserving the song's dignity but with Gaga's trademark bluesy touches.
Singer Jennifer Lopez began her medley with
Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land."
MUSIC SUSTAINED the theme of unity and love throughout the day, emphasizing the new administration's goal to overcome division and rancor. At the inauguration, country star Garth Brooks' a capella version of "Amazing Grace" lingers.  He took off his black cowboy hat to close his eyes as he delivered the powerful gospel song. It was touching to hear the audience join in, even masked as they were, gazing at thousands of American flags. The flags added a splash of welcome color to the mall, replacing the usual human crowd prevented from gathering because of Covid and stringent security.
Young poet Amanda Gorman marked the day with
a spirited, lyrical poem about hope and humanity.

Poet Maya Angelou read for
President Bill Clinton.
JENNIFER Lopez will be remembered for her lovely medley beginning quietly with Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land," then a segue to "America the Beautiful" with a bit of the "Pledge of Allegiance" in Espanol fitted in.
  Vice President Harris wasn’t the only woman of color to break ground on this prestigious Inauguration Day. Poet Amanda Gorman became the youngest inaugural poet in American history when she recited her astonishing work, “The Hill We Climb.” 
Jon Bon Jovi sang a lyrical "Here Comes The Sun"
at a special musical celebration to end the day's activities.
POET GORMAN, protege of  Maya Angelou, who read at President Bill Clinton's inauguration, reminded us of other famed poets who read on this momentous day.  Robert Frost struggled to read a new poem -- blinded by winter sun -- then improvised with an older one, at John F. Kennedy’s swearing-in. Angelou spoke of dinosaurs, God and unity at Bill Clinton's. And Richard Blanco greeted a typically American diverse crowd with “hello, shalom, buon giorno, howdy, namaste, or buenos días.” That was at Barack Obama’s second inaugural.
Yo Yo Ma's "Amazing Grace'' ended with a few
notes of Aaron Copeland and a Quaker hymn.
OTHER FABULOUS Jan. 20 musical moments linked speeches and ceremony. The Marine Band's bugler played a perfect "Taps" at Arlington National Cemetery's wreath laying. 
Singers Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Katy Perry, and cellist Yo Yo Ma put a musical coda on the evening. Ma's stunning version of "Amazing Grace" was particularly moving.
Rocker Bon Jovi's sweet and lyrical acoustic version of The Beatles' tune "Here Comes the Sun," reflected the hopeful mood of many Americans with Biden and Harris now our new president and vice president.
JFK's inauguration featured acclaimed poet
Robert Frost, then 86 years old.
SINCE MUSIC and poetry have long marked inaugurals, it seems a metaphor that the outgoing president did not include a poet in his inauguration. Arts were not a noticeable part of life in the White House, unlike other presidential stints in which music and concerts were an important part of life.  From Frank Sinatra to Marian Anderson, Duke Ellington and Johnny and June Carter Cash, musicians have enhanced the occupants' reigns and reflected the diversity of our culture. Long may it be thus.
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UP NEXT: Fellow travel junkies, listen up.  We're researching the return to the skies and seas. Airlines and cruise lines are gearing up with new Covid restrictions and requirements for travelers. Buoyed by the new administration, vaccinations  in all 50 states. We couldn't be happier or more excited.  With more than 125 cruises under our life vests, we've been following the industry's disastrous hit during COVID times.  Slowly, ships are returning to the waters so  and airlines are opening up more flights with strict masking and distancing. Meanwhile, remember to mask, distance, and explore, learn and live while we await a vaccine. Please share this column, too, and comment.  We appreciate that!


  1. What a fun and joyful read.

  2. Excellent overview of a remarkable day with glorious music.

  3. So wonderful to experience the day live, and now, in your "right on" reflection.