- The Washington Times - Monday, January 12, 2009

The Lincoln Memorial, with all of its neoclassical structure, will have the finesse to abstain its age and charm thousands of screaming fans this Saturday for the opening celebration of President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration.

Performers including Beyonce, Bruce Springsteen, Denzel Washington, Stevie Wonder, Garth Brooks, Bono, Queen Latifah and John Mellencamp will rock the Lincoln Memorial for an opening celebration of President-elect Barack Obama’s inauguration, the Presidential Inaugural Committee announced Monday.

The celebration for the 56th inaugural will be held Sunday, Jan. 18, between 7 and 9 p.m. EST and will be broadcast exclusively by HBO on an open signal available to all. The event will be free to the public, kicking off the most open and accessible inauguration in history, the committee said in a statement.

The event will fall on the eve of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and two days before the inauguration.

The televised special, which is expected to draw at least tens thousands of people, is one of several public events planned by the committee to open pre-inaugural events and the inauguration itself to as much of the public as possible.

The entire length of the Mall will be open for the first time in inaugural history during Mr. Obama’s swearing-in ceremony Jan. 20.

And the first inaugural ball that Mr. Obama and his wife, Michelle, will attend will be the first-ever Neighborhood Inaugural Ball, the committee said. It will be broadcast live over ABC-TV and the Internet, bringing together neighborhoods across the country in the spirit of unity and celebration, it said.

At the Lincoln Memorial event, we will combine historical readings by prominent actors with music from an array of the greatest stars of today, said George Stevens Jr., who will be the executive producer for the special. He has been involved with producing the Kennedy Center Honors.

“This is a great opportunity to capture an historic event in a very meaningful setting,” said Don Mischer, who will produce the special. “We will have the statue of Abraham Lincoln looking down on our stage and a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people lining the Mall a tableau any director would relish.”

Other musical performers scheduled will be Mary J. Blige, Sheryl Crow, Renee Fleming, Josh Groban, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, John Legend, Jennifer Nettles, Usher Raymond IV, Shakira, James Taylor and will.i.am, the committee said.

Others reading historical passages will be Jamie Foxx and Martin Luther King III, it said.

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