WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama is drawing an A-list of performers for his inaugural festivities, including a massive ball expected to draw more than 35,000 revelers.
Katy Perry, Smokey Robinson, Usher, Alicia Keys and Brad Paisley are among the stars announced Friday to sing at Obama's inaugural balls Jan. 21 and a children's concert on Jan. 19. Also signed up are Marc Anthony, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and the cast of "Glee."
The concert and the two official inaugural balls are being held at the Washington Convention Center over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend when Obama begins his second term. The performers join Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor, already announced for Obama's signing ceremony Jan. 21 on the West Front of the Capitol.
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 convention center event.
Robinson told The Associated Press he'll be at The Inaugural Ball with his own band, but he isn't sure yet which songs he'll sing. Robinson said he's always happy to perform when the president asks because he's so proud of the first family.
"I've been in the White House many, many, many times for many presidents and this is the first time for me that it's really felt like when I go to the White House or something like that, it feels like you're going to your family's," Robinson said. "It feels like you're going home because that's how they treat me and that's how they treat my wife."
While Obama has cut the number of inaugural balls lower than any president 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 in a reflection of the quadrennial demand in Washington to toast the president in person on such a historic day.
The Inaugural Ball is being held across all 700,000 square feet of the Washington Convention Center's five exhibit halls, which four years ago held six separate balls.
The second gala is the Commander In Chief's Ball, a tradition started by President George W. Bush to honor the military. Doubling in size from four years ago to about 4,000, it's being held on the third-floor ballroom of the convention hall a mile from the White House. Tickets are free for invitees, including active-duty and reserve troops, Medal of Honor recipients and wounded warriors.
Demand has been high for entry to the two official affairs. Inaugural planners offered a limited number of tickets to The Inaugural Ball for sale at $60, and they sold out quickly Sunday night when Ticketmaster accidentally sent out an email ahead of time announcing they were available. Inaugural organizers are trying to stop a swift scalping business for the tickets, which have been cropping up for sale online.
That's even though city officials are predicting a drop in attendance to 600,000 to 800,000 for the inauguration this year compared with 2009, when a record 1.8 million crowded onto the National Mall to see the first black president sworn into office.
Those who can't get into the convention hall with the Obamas can still carouse into the night at several unofficial balls across Washington, including some drawing their own celebrity entertainment. Charity group Musicians On Call, when sends performers to play bedside for hospitalized patients, is being headlined by chart-topping singer Ke$ha.
Those who work for Obama will get their own chance to celebrate with the president, with a staff ball planned for the day after the inauguration. That celebration is kept private, but last year 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 the throngs of young staffers who worked so hard to turn the White House Democratic.
More tickets to The Inaugural Ball will be on sale, but not to the general public. They will go to campaign volunteers, community leaders, elected officials and other invitees, as well as donors being asked to contribute up to $250,000 individually or $1 million from corporations to pay for the festivities. Invitees will be sent an email in the next few days with personalized Ticketmaster account information they can use to purchase up to two tickets.
The Inaugural Ball's halls extend across two floors, so the president and first lady plan to spin on the dance floor of each level. At the Commander In Chief's Ball, the president and first lady plan to continue the tradition of dancing with members of the military.
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. But could it also be an effort
to give the president some relief from having to dance to the same song over and over again all across town on an already exhausting day?
President George W. Bush didn't hide his annoyance after his second inaugural at having to repeatedly sashay around to a musical medley that included "I Could Have Danced All Night." Could have, but did not: He and first lady Laura Bush danced for a cumulative total of just 8 minutes, 54 seconds across 10 galas.
AP music writer Mesfin Fekadu contributed to this report.
Online: Presidential Inaugural Committee
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Members of an Indiana National Guard unit marched behind Santa Claus as they arrived at a ceremony welcoming them home after a 10-month deployment to Afghanistan.
Fort Wayne police are looking for a man who is suspected of robbing a local bar early Thursday morning.
The property manager at a Geneva apartment complex says a bed bug infestation has been all cleaned up, while some timid tenants and an outspoken protestor beg to differ.
The Hoosier Park horse track is looking to pull in more gamblers to its Fort Wayne off-track betting parlor. Leaders are strongly looking at New Haven for its new location.
Fourth and sixth graders at Leo Elementary School were given a survey intended to improve student life. Parents were not notified of the survey ahead of time, and said some questions were an invasion of privacy and home life.
The deaf community in South Africa says an interpreter for Nelson Mandela's memorial was a fake. A revelation that has caused an uproar worldwide.
Police arrested a man after he apparently sent threatening letters to a woman and to himself to throw police off track. Officials said he also set his own truck on fire.
The program provides free cab rides home to impaired drivers during the holiday season until January 1.
Police arrested two people after they went on a shopping spree using credit cards that were stolen from a woman at gunpoint in her parent’s driveway. Police were able to arrest the suspects within hours because the credit card companies told the victim where her cards were being used.
O'Donnell will be performing country music, inspirational ballads, pop hits and Irish standards at the Embassy Theatre, Tuesday, June 10, 2014, at 7 p.m.
Check out the photos viewers sent NewsChannel 15 of the snowfall on Wednesday.
A man who appeared to provide sign language interpretation on stage for Nelson Mandela's memorial service, attended by scores of heads of state, was a "fake," the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa said on Wednesday.
While there are no serious crashes to report, snowy roads made for a dangerous morning commute. Roads are still extremely slick in places and they could stay that way for most of the day.
Fort Wayne Animal Care and Control is offering free straw to anyone in Allen County who needs animal bedding during the cold winter.
Visitors to downtown Fort Wayne can now stay connected on all their wi-fi capable devices thanks to new hot spots at Freimann Square and One Summit Square.