- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 13, 2005

Country star Kenny Chesney and his famously tight Levi’s will be in town for next week’s inauguration. His good pal, Kid Rock, will not.

Teen idol Hilary Duff, “American Idol” Ruben Studdard and former “Frasier” star Kelsey Grammer also will be in Washington to celebrate the 55th inaugural, planners said yesterday.

Mr. Grammer will join Cuban-born singer Gloria Estefan, soul singer Bebe Winans, Miss USA Shandi Finnessey and legendary boxing promoter Don King for the kickoff event on Tuesday: “Saluting Those Who Serve.” The two-hour event, which will take place at the MCI Center, will be followed by a private reception that will include a jazz ensemble and a harpist.

Later Tuesday night at the Armory, the president’s daughters Jenna and Barbara Bush will be in the audience for the “America’s Future Rocks Today” concert. Miss Duff will share the stage with singer JoJo, Mr. Studdard, rock group 3 Doors Down and former football star Jason Sehorn (whose wife, actress Angie Harmon, campaigned for President Bush).

Although he had supported Mr. Bush’s re-election and performed for young Republicans at their political party’s national convention in New York, the raucous and often profane Kid Rock had never been officially booked for an inaugural event, planners said.

However, cultural conservatives said their protests had thwarted plans for the singer to perform at the concert being hosted by the Bush daughters.

Mr. Chesney — who was named the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of The Year in 2004 — is set to appear at Wednesday’s “Celebration of Freedom” at the Ellipse along with actor Gary Sinise, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the Gatlin Brothers, longtime friends of the Bush family.

Tony Award-winner Kristen Chenoweth also will make an appearance, at the personal request of Mr. Bush and his wife, Laura.

“They just love her singing,” gala organizer Cynthia Grubb said. Miss Chenoweth will pay tribute to service members at home and abroad by performing a song from her newly released album, “Borrowed Angels.”

Each of the $150-per-ticket official inaugural balls on Thursday night also will feature classic big band entertainment from Guy Lombardo’s Orchestra, Tommy Dorsey and the Pat Dorn Orchestra.

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