WASHINGTON – More than 5,000 military kids and their families squealed,boogied and danced as Usher,Katy Perry,Far East Movement and Mindless Behavior pumped up the crowd with musical performances as part of the weekend of pre-inauguration events.
“You are our future and tonight’s party is all about you,” said actor Nick Cannon,who emceed the event.
First lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden,the vice president’s wife,commissioned the concert for the first time four years ago as a part of “Joining Forces,” their initiative to help both combat soldiers and veterans gain access to better health and wellness,education and job opportunities once their deployment is over.
“We will keep calling on Americans to translate the love and pride that we all feel into action that makes a real difference for you and your families,” Obama told the crowd.
Ryan Seacrest,Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Kimmel were among the celebrities in featured video messages throughout the evening,thanking military members for their service and military kids for their sacrifices.
Usher’s performances of “Get Low” and “OMG” brought the crowd,including the first lady,to their feet for a standing ovation. Usher encouraged kids to be heard. “You have a voice. It’s not only to elect the president that we want,but it leads to being recognized and your education being made a priority,” he said.
In what was perhaps the most expressive performance of the evening,Walt Whitman directed the Soul Children of Chicago in a rendition of The Beatles’ “Come Together,” complete with an intricate violin duet and a rousing chorus that seemed to shake the rafters. The children’s choir,which was started more than 30 years ago,combines spiritual and pop music to create sensational ballads. The choir also joined with Darren Criss from the hit-television series “Glee” to perform “Not Alone,” a song by Criss wrote. He performed an acoustic cover of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie” with his “Glee” co-star,Naya Rivera,followed by Amber Riley’s cover of “Beautiful” by Christina Aguilera.
Far East Movement and Mindless Behavior animated the crowd with their flashy dance moves. Far East Movement passed over its hit “Like a G6” in favor of “Turn Up the Love” and “Live My Life,” both of which had adults and kids dancing in the aisles. The female screams when the four young teen boys of Mindless Behavior took the stage echoed through the hall.
For most audience members,the final performance,by Katy Perry dressed in a bedazzling red,white and blue number was the night’s favorite. Perry’s infectious pop songs and energetic voice elicited audience participation for her hits “Wide Awake” and “Teenage Dream,” but the final performance of “Firework” had the whole crowd on its feet.
Reach SHFWire report Jess Miller at [email protected] or 202-326-9871. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.