USA

Star-studded TV special Celebrating America calls for unity and hope in the face of darkness

Washington DC - Yesterday's historic presidential inauguration came to a close with a bang – literally. Celebrating America brought together A-list celebrities for genre-spanning live performance, with spectacular fireworks capping off the 90-minute special event.

Bruce Springsteen sings and strums his guitar alone in front of the Lincoln Memorial.
Bruce Springsteen sings and strums his guitar alone in front of the Lincoln Memorial.  © imago images/ZUMA Wire

The star-studded spectacle also featured tributes to the endless efforts by nurses, doctors, and teachers who have worked on the front lines throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

Standing at the feet of the Abraham Lincoln Memorial, President Joe Biden reassured Americans: "We're good people!" He again called for unity, echoing his inaugural address.

Bruce Springsteen took up the theme with a heartfelt rendition of Land of Hope and Dreams, a track combining equal parts sorrow and optimism.

"Leave behind your sorrows, let this day be the last. Tomorrow there'll be sunshine and all this darkness past," The Boss sang against the backdrop of the Lincoln Memorial.

Soulful performances echoed the theme of the day

Katy Perry performed Firework against the backdrop of a stunning firework over the National Mall.
Katy Perry performed Firework against the backdrop of a stunning firework over the National Mall.  © imago images/ZUMA Wire

A variety of singers, musicians, artistsm and actors were part of the celebration.

Broadway stars chimed in via videoconference for a performance of Let the Sunshine In from the musical Hair .

Jon Bon Jovi covered The Beatles' Here Comes the Sun. John Legend sat down on the piano to sing a soulful rendition of Nina Simone's Feeling Good. Puerto Rican singers Ozuna and Luis Fonsi sang their Spanish language hit, Taki Taki.

Meanwhile, Justin Timberlake and Ant Clemons reflected the theme of the night with their emotional performance of Better Days. "There's a light at the end of the tunnel," Clemons sang in the opening lines.

The spectacle culminated with a dazzling display of red, white, and blue fireworks that lit up the nation's capital, as Katy Perry sang a powerful rendition of her mega hit Firework.

Tom Hanks hosted the show in chilly conditions

Hollywood actor Tom Hanks hosted the star-studded special.
Hollywood actor Tom Hanks hosted the star-studded special.  © imago images/ZUMA Wire

Overseeing it all was Tom Hanks, the evening's host. His outfit drew the attention of some (concerned) Twitter users.

"Give Tom Hanks a thicker coat!" one user wrote.

"Just watching Tom Hanks out there makes me want to turn up the heat here," another joked.

Hanks, who seemed a little chilly as temperatures in DC hovered around 30 degrees, retained his usual cool throughout. However, the Capitol riot and Trump's legacy got a mention the brief introduction speech he gave.

"The last few weeks and the last few years, we've witnessed deep divisions and a troubling rancor in our land," Hanks said

"But tonight, we ponder the United States of America, the practice of our democracy, the foundations of our republic, the integrity of our Constitution, the hope and dreams we all share for a more perfect union," he continued on a more positive note.

Barack Obama: "Joe, I'm proud of you"

Former presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush appeared side by side in a joint message to emphasize Biden's call for unity and the importance of the nation's democracy.

"The fact that the three of us are standing here talking about a peaceful transfer of power speaks to the institutional integrity of our country," Bush said, with a nod towards Donald Trump's repeated efforts to denounce the 2020 election results.

All three wished Biden well as he takes office as the next President of the US.

But Obama had a particularly personal message for his former cice president: "Joe, I'm proud of you."

Cover photo: imago images/ZUMA Wire

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