Poet Amanda Gorman, Lady Gaga and other musicians bring arts to Biden/Harris Inauguration
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As Americans and people over the world heaved a heavy sigh of relief and joy with the Inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on January 20, one young poet stood out for her artistic contribution.
22-year-old Los Angeles-born Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman, the Youth Poet Laureate of 2017, delivered a concise and eloquent poem, "The Hill We Climb."
"There is always light if we are brave enough to see it if we are brave enough to be it," she recited.
Her closing phrases: "The new dawn blooms as we free it. For there is always light if only we are brave enough to see it. If only we are brave enough to be it."
Praise for Gorman came from around the world, from unknown fans to former First Lady Michelle Obama.
By Wednesday evening, Gorman posted on Twitter, "I am on the floor! My books are #1 and #2 on Amazon after one day! Thank you so much to everyone for supporting me and my words. As Yeats put it: 'For words alone are certain good: Sing, then.'"
Watch Gorman's recitation here:
Music also added to the ceremony. In a resplendent black and red gown, Lady Gaga wowed the sparse, socially-distanced audience of dignitaries. Vogue magazine noted that Texan designer Daniel Roseberry of French fashion house Schiaparelli designed her ruffled crimson silk faille skirt and black angled bodice.
But the combination of her eclectic hairstyle and large golden dove-shaped brooch left some wondering if Gaga was making a subtle reference to the styles in the film adaptation of The Hunger Games.
Lady Gaga's multi-rhythmic version of "The Star Spangled Banner" brought new life to the national anthem (which has its own contentious history, as well as its racist slave-owning composer, Francis Scott Key).
Still, as always, Gaga prevailed.
Other Inauguration performers included country singer Garth Brooks' passable performance of "Amazing Grace," and a white-jacketed and bejeweled Jennifer Lopez sang a medley of "This Land is Your Land" and "America the Beautiful" with the U.S. Marine Band accompanying.
Instead of multiple balls, the Inauguration night's 'Celebrating America' included a special virtual celebration hosted by Tom Hanks, with Bruce Springsteen and John Legend singing on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, along with remote-recorded songs performed by John Bon Jovi, Foo Fighters, Justin Timberlake and others. Broadways stars gathered for renditions of "What the World Needs Now" and a medley of "Season of Love" from Rent and "Let the Sun Shine" from Hair. (watch on YouTube)
And instead of focusing on glamour and parties with rich donors, the event including multiple short video segments honoring members of working class industries, fundraising kids, hospital workers and military members, even astronauts broadcasting their greetings from outer space.
The celebration concluded with Katy Perry lipsyching a symphonic version of her hit song, "Firework," as a stunning cascade of real fireworks exploded above the National Mall all the way to the Washington Monument.
Watch the full concert here and enjoy this historic day when, as President Biden said, "Democracy prevailed."
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