Top talent is sworn in

Inauguration concert taps actors, musicians

Denzel Washington, Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Stevie Wonder are among the talent who will participate in Sunday's inaugural opening celebration, which will air live on HBO.

"We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial" is the first official event sponsored by the Presidential Inaugural Committee for Barack Obama's inauguration. HBO will carry the event exclusively from 7-9 p.m. EST; the premium channel will be available free to cable and satellite providers with an open signal.

Many details are being finalized, but executive producer George Stephens Jr. said a key theme will be Obama's place in history among other presidents who have led the country in difficult times.

"It's not a celebration of victory; it's about the country coming together for the future we're going to face," Stephens said Monday. "There's a sense of history about it. Much of the music will be in the context of that history. The Lincoln Memorial is a kind of sacred site."

Producer-director Don Mischer agreed.

"More than anything, it's going to be a moving program," he said. "We're trying to pick performances and music that in one form or another are grounded in history."

Mischer, Stephens and the organizers are on a hurried schedule, having known for only a few weeks that they'd be producing.

"I can assure you that this show will not be over-rehearsed," Mischer joked.

Also set to perform are Mary J. Blige, Garth Brooks, will.i.am., James Taylor, Josh Groban, Sheryl Crow, Herbie Hancock, Usher, John Mellencamp, John Legend, Shakira, Heather Headley, Jennifer Nettles and Renee Fleming. More performers will be announced, Stephens said. (partialdiff)
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