By Jill Serjeant, Reuters
An emotional Lady Gaga performed a dramatic version of the U.S. national anthem, Garth Brooks sang a cappella, and Jennifer Lopez gave a shoutout in Spanish at the inauguration of President Joe Biden on Wednesday, a ceremony that was marked by diversity and appeals for unity.
Gaga, known for her flamboyant outfits, wowed in a huge fuchsia Schiaparelli couture silk skirt and black top adorned by a large gold brooch of a dove carrying an olive branch as she stepped up to sing “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
Gaga turned at one point to gesture to the U.S. flag flying high over the Capitol, the seat of Congress that just two weeks ago was the scene of an attack by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump seeking to overturn Biden’s election.
“She slayed it. I AM GAGA FOR GAGA!!!” actor Ed Helms wrote in a tweet.
Ahead of her performance, Gaga said on Twitter that she wanted to “acknowledge our past, be healing for our present, and be passionate for a future where we work together lovingly.”
Country singer Brooks, a Republican, chose jeans and a black shirt and took off his black Stetson hat to sing an unaccompanied version of “Amazing Grace” and asked Americans at the ceremony and watching at home to sing along with him for the last verse.
Lopez, dressed in white pants and a long matching coat, performed a medley of “This Land is Your Land” and “America The Beautiful,” interjecting in Spanish the part of the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance that says, “One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
At just 22 years old, poet Amanda Gorman captured the mixed emotions of the past four years with a poem in which she referred to herself as a “skinny Black girl, descended from slaves and raised by a single mother (who) can dream of becoming president only to find herself reciting for one.”
The cultural celebrations will continue on Wednesday night with a two-hour special broadcast across six television networks and social media, hosted by “Toy Story” actor Tom Hanks, who is known as “America’s Dad.”
The events, bringing together some of the biggest white, Black and Hispanic celebrities, mark a sharp contrast with Trump’s inauguration in 2017, which was low on star power.
Wednesday’s TV special, called “Celebrating America,” will feature appearances from stars including Bruce Springsteen, Katy Perry, Tim McGraw, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Justin Timberlake, Demi Lovato, and John Legend.
Biden’s inaugural committee said the special will also feature teachers, delivery drivers, and healthcare workers, along with children who raised money to get food to people who have fallen on hard times because of the coronavirus pandemic.