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Rockin’ balls: A-listers sign up for inaugural celebrations

WASHINGTON (CNN) — They were some of his loudest supporters during last year’s campaign, so it makes sense that Katy Perry, John Legend, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys and Usher will all perform at President Barack Obama’s slate of inaugural balls.

The musical acts were announced Friday by the Presidential Inauguration Committee, which organizes the events surrounding Obama’s swearing-in.

“We are honored and excited to have such a diverse, talented group of musical guests joining Americans from across the country to celebrate the 57th Inauguration,” Steve Kerrigan, the president and CEO of the committee, said in a statement.

Other acts on the roster include country star Brad Paisley, the cast of the TV musical show “Glee,” R&B legend Smokey Robinson, and Latin singer Marc Anthony.

The official inauguration committee is planning two official inaugural balls on Monday, January 21, down from the six held in 2009. Organizers have said the reduction in the number of official balls is meant to reflect tough economic conditions facing many Americans, though the two balls planned have been expanded from their counterparts four years ago.

Obama’s first inauguration also featured a large, outdoor concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, during which 20 A-list acts – including Mary J. Blige, Sheryl Crow and Bruce Springsteen — performed for hundreds of thousands of spectators.

Both of the 2013 events will be held at the Washington Convention Center in downtown D.C.

One, the Commander-in-Chief’s Ball, continues a tradition started by President George W. Bush at his second inauguration in 2005. It welcomes active duty servicemen and women, along with veterans, free of charge. The committee said it would be double the size of the 2009 Commander-in-Chief Ball.

A second ball, called simply The Inaugural Ball, invites members of the public along with campaign volunteers. Entry to that event, which costs $60, has been in high demand, and a snafu last Sunday by the online retailer Ticketmaster caused some Obama supporters to miss their chance to purchase tickets.

The committee said The Inaugural Ball, along with the military event, would utilize every available hall space in the Convention Center. The president and the first lady traditionally make rounds to every official ball to take a swing on the dance floor.

Other, unofficial balls are also scheduled for the weekend, including the Hip-Hop Ball hosted by Russell Simmons, balls for individual states hosted by Congressional delegations, and events for foreign diplomatic missions.

Earlier this week, the inauguration committee announced that Beyoncé would perform the national anthem at the official inauguration ceremony on Monday. Also performing this year are James Taylor and Kelly Clarkson — Taylor will perform “America the Beautiful” and Clarkson will sing “My Country Tis of Thee.”

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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