Outgoing US president Barack Obama was welcomed to the White House in 2009 by Aretha Franklin and Beyoncé; Donald Trump, in a twist on tradition—but what else is new—has opted for a teenage America’s Got Talent contestant.
The president-elect’s pick of 16-year-old Jackie Evancho to sing the national anthem at his inauguration on Jan. 20, which was announced this morning (Dec. 14), is apparently less a purposeful statement and more a case of slim pickings. According to “insiders” speaking to The Wrap last week, Trump’s inaugural committee haven’t been able to find any A-list performers.
Says Evancho, “I’m so excited. It’s going to be awesome.”
It’s atypical for artists to be compensated at all for the event, as it’s usually considered a prestigious, patriotic honor in and of itself, but Trump’s inauguration committee members are eager and “willing to pay anything,” said one unnamed performer, adding: “I couldn’t do it—not even for a billion dollars.”
Other unnamed sources say the Trump camp even offered ambassadorships to talent bookers who could snag big names. (Counters a Trump spokesman: “There is no truth to this insinuation. First-class entertainers are eager to participate in the inaugural events.”)
Stars who have outright rejected the gig, some without even being asked, include John Legend and Elton John, who was said to be performing by Trump’s camp before his publicist denied it (paywall) in a message with caps. And we can assume the likes of Adele, Queen, R.E.M., and Neil Young, who’ve all objected to Trump using their music over the course of his campaign, are out.
“I would never do it,” Swedish singer Zara Larsson recently declared. “And most other smart people wouldn’t do it.”
Legend told the BBC: “Creative people tend to reject bigotry and hate. We tend to be more liberal-minded. When we see somebody that’s preaching division and hate and bigotry, it’s unlikely he’ll get a lot of creative people that want to be associated with him.”
Rapper-entrepreneur-future-presidential-candidate Kanye West, despite harboring an outré fondness for Trump, is not currently scheduled to perform at the January event—though he did make a point of tweeting, multiple times this week, about the closeness of his friendship with the president-elect.
If he were to show up, may we suggest West perform one of his hits that has the chorus: “No one man should have all this power?”