Yesterday’s presidential inauguration doubled as a mini-music festival of sorts, with many of the biggest names in rock, hip-hop and R&B taking the stage at galas across Washington, DC. At the nationally televised Neighborhood Ball, Barack and Michelle Obama enjoyed their first dance as Mr. and Mrs. President while Beyoncé sang “At Last.” Jay-Z, Stevie Wonder, Sting, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Faith Hill and Maroon 5’s Adam Levine also performed at that event, and the group came together for an all-star rendition of Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.”
At the Be the Change Ball at DC’s Hilton Washington, Kanye West, Fall Out Boy and Kid Rock rocked the crowd, while the Western States Inauguration Ball featured Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez. The real all-stars of the night were the Obamas, however, as the couple managed to cameo at all 10 official balls. There were also performances by George Clinton and David Banner at the Heroes Red, White and Blue Ball, the reunited Dead at the Mid-Atlantic Ball, and countless after parties.
The Creative Coalition Inaugural Ball at the Harman Center for the Arts wasn’t one of the official balls visited by President Obama, but it was still a star-studded affair with with the likes of Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson taking in performances by Sting, Elvis Costello and soul legend Sam Moore.
A few guests braved the chills of the red carpet, (it was actually a blue carpet, an odd Muppet-ish hue), including Anne Hathaway, who expounded on the Creative Coalition’s mission. “Art makes good citizens, art makes good people,” the Rachel Getting Married star said, sporting a new haircut and a sleek red gown. She had spent the morning on the Mall where the weather was equally chilly, but human warmth was in surplus. “There are millions of people all sitting there sending positive energy toward something,” she marveled.
Comedian Jeffrey Ross strolled by with some advice for the new president. “I want to see a basketball hoop put in the White House,” he said. “Nixon put in a bowling alley, Clinton put in a putting green. ‘The Audacity of Hoops’ — that’ll be the name of the court.”
Susan Sarandon had different hopes for the next four years. “I think [Obama]’s hopefully going to start demanding that certain things are priorities that nobody else has been caring about,” she said, “And one of them should be the vets because they’re coming home and nobody’s giving them what they need. So that’s going to be my one personal bitch.”
And with that, she was whisked off into the building for a night of peace, love and understanding.
• Photos: Alicia Keys, Kanye West and More at the Inaugural Balls
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• Barack Obama Selects the Dead for Inaugural Ball: “It Was Quite an Honor”