A little more than two months after his surprise electoral win, Donald Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States at an inauguration ceremony that begins on Jan. 20 at 11:30 a.m.
The Friday morning ceremony is just a small part of inauguration weekend. On Thursday night, musicians like Toby Keith and 3 Doors Down will perform at the Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.
In the lead-up to the weekend, news coverage has focused more on lawmakers and performers who will not be a part of inauguration weekend. Some members of the latter group, like Elton John, were rumored to be performing before dispelling those notions. Others, like B Street, a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street cover band, were slated to perform and backed out.
Still others have proclaimed that they won’t perform at the inauguration despite seemingly never being contacted by the Trump team, according to Boris Epshteyn, communications director for the Presidential Inaugural Committee.
“For some of them, that’s like me saying, ‘I’m not going to be playing point guard for the Washington Wizards,’” Epshteyn told The Washington Post. “Well, I was never asked.”
With that in mind, here are the confirmed performers for inauguration weekend, as well as some of the notable performers who won’t be making an appearance.
Big & Rich
“We’re thrilled to be performing in our nation’s capital during this historic moment in time,” Big & Rich member John Rich, who won season 11 of Celebrity Apprentice, said in a statement to Rolling Stone. “A presidential inauguration is a uniquely American event, so we are honored to be a part of it and hope to help make it a memorable event.”
The country rapper announced his inauguration participation at the same time as frequent collaborators Big & Rich. “Honored to get to participate in an historic event,” the artist wrote on Facebook.
DJ Ravidrums, a DJ and electronic drummer, will also perform.
The Frontmen of Country
The inaugural committee announced that Thursday night’s Lincoln Memorial lineup will include this trio of Nashville singers, Lonestar’s Richie McDonald, Restless Heart’s Larry Stewart, and ex-Little Texas crooner Tim Rushlow. They’ll also perform at the Freedom Ball Friday evening.
The 16-year-old former America’s Got Talent contestant will sing the National Anthem at the conclusion of the swearing-in ceremony Friday morning. “I hope to just kind of make everyone forget about rivals and politics for a second and just think about America and the pretty song that I’m singing,” Evancho told CBS News. “I’m hoping that I can bring people together.”
When the country singer performs his 1984 hit “God Bless the USA” for Trump Thursday night, it will mark the fourth time Greenwood has sung at the inauguration of an incoming Republican president. “I think it’s in bad taste to say no,” Greenwood told Billboard magazine when asked about other artists who backed out of performing. “It’s not political. I consider it a great honor and prestige of being able to sing the song I wrote in 1983 at the Lincoln Memorial.”
The Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Though the famed choir will perform at the inauguration, one member resigned under protest. “I’ve tried to tell myself that it will be all right and that I can continue in good conscience before God and man,” former Choir member Jan Chamberlin wrote in a now-deleted Facebook post, as reported by CNN. “I only know I could never ‘throw roses to Hitler.’ And I certainly could never sing for him.”
The Piano Guys
The piano and cello group, which made a name for itself on YouTube with dazzling music videos, told Entertainment Weekly in a statement, “Our desire as The Piano Guys has always been to spread hope, love and joy through our music and videos. We accepted the invitation to perform at the Inauguration with this objective in mind.”
The Radio City Rockettes
The December announcement that the Rockettes would be performing at the inauguration caused a riff among the dance troupe, with many dancers allegedly refusing to perform despite threats that their jobs were at stake, according to a pseudonymous Rockettes member who spoke to Marie Claire. “We do a lot of events, but there have been no events that could cause trauma,” Mary (not her real name) told Marie Claire. “And doing this would cause trauma for some people.”
The 81-year-old former member of soul duo Sam and Dave — known for hits like “Soul Man” and “Hold On, I’m Comin'” — told the Associated Press he was performing in part because of what he felt was unfair criticism of singer Jennifer Holliday, who backed out of performing after a negative reaction from fans.
Tim Rushlow & His Big Band
As first reported by Buzzfeed, Tim Rushlow’s swing jazz group will provide the music for Donald and Melania Trump’s first dance as president and first lady at the Freedom Ball on Friday evening. “I’m really excited to bring this throwback, retro, 1965 Bobby Darin Supper Club experience to an inaugural ball,” Rushlow told USA Today.
Keith will perform at Thursday’s concert at Lincoln Memorial, and he isn’t happy with critics who have questioned his decision. “I don’t apologize for performing for our country or military,” Keith said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. “I performed at events for previous presidents [George W.] Bush and [Barack] Obama and over 200 shows in Iraq and Afghanistan for the USO.”
The gospel singer announced his inauguration performance in an Instagram video, saying that he decided to accept the invitation after much prayer and soul-searching. “I believe that this is a door open[ing] from God for me to engage in culture,” Greene said in the video. “Not to sit back and tolerate or complain, but to help redefine culture in some way.”
Who’s not performing
The rapper posted a video to Instagram in which he expressed disappointment that he would likely never visit the White House after not being invited by President Obama during his eight years in office. The rapper then mentioned that Trump’s people had called him about the inauguration, but he had declined to appear. “I know they only doing this ’cause they can’t get nobody else,” the rapper said. “They want me to perform for the inauguration. I had to say, ‘Nah.’ No matter how much money it was.”
The New York Post reported that the Italian tenor, of whom Trump is a fan, had initially agreed to participate in the inauguration before changing his mind because he was concerned about fan backlash. Meanwhile, Trump’s inaugural committee chairman Thomas Barrack told CNBC that it was actually Bocelli who came to Trump offering to perform, and that the president-elect declined Bocelli’s offer.
After committing to perform inauguration weekend, the cover band of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band backed out of the gig out of respect for Bruce Springsteen, who has been very critical of Trump in the past. “We owe everything to [Bruce],” B Street keyboardist Will Forte told Rolling Stone. “And our gratitude and respect to the band is imperative above all else.”
According to The Wrap, longtime Trump friend and casino magnate Steve Wynn (whose Everett casino is slated to open in 2019) was reportedly helping the president-elect with his inauguration list, and promised to help land the Canadian singer, who has a residency at the Colosseum at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Wynn was unsuccessful, however: TMZ reported that Dion was committed to playing her regularly scheduled residency on Jan. 20 and did not want to disappoint fans who had bought tickets.
The British singer-songwriter rejected the Trump inaugural team’s invitation through the president-elect’s favorite social media platform, Twitter.
@realDonaldTrump Your staff have asked me to sing at your inauguration, a simple Internet search would show I think you're a tyrant. Bye????
— Charlotte Church (@charlottechurch) January 10, 2017
Musician and producer David Foster is a friend of Trump’s, and reportedly helped him organize musical acts for the inauguration. Despite this, Foster turned down an offer to perform, posting on social media that he “politely and respectfully declined.” Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that Foster chose not to perform because he was afraid of angering Clinton supporters who donate to his charity.
Back in November, Trump transition team member Anthony Scaramucci told the BBC that Elton John would be performing at the inauguration in order to prove his point that Trump will become “the first American president in U.S. history that enters the White House with a pro-gay rights stance.” Shortly after, the singer’s reps denied that John would be performing. When John was asked about Trump using his song “Tiny Dancer” at campaign stops last year, he made his feelings clear. “I’m not a Republican in a million years,” John told The Guardian. Why not ask Ted f***ing Nugent?”
Rumors swirled about the country singer potentially joining the inaugural lineup, partly because of his long relationship with Wynn (Brooks held a four-year residency at the Wynn-owned Encore Theatre) and partly because Brooks told TMZ in December that he was open to performing. “It’s always about serving,” Brooks said. “It’s what you do.” However, the singer later released a statement saying he would not be attending, citing scheduling conflicts.
It seems somewhat dubious that the Law & Order: SVU actor and singer of “Cop Killer” was asked to perform, but Ice-T tweeted in December that he didn’t even pick up the phone when called about performing.
I just got call to perform at the Inauguration…. I didn’t pick up and Blocked the number.
— ICE T (@FINALLEVEL) December 16, 2016
The actress and singer, best known for her turn on Broadway in Dreamgirls, initially agreed to perform at the inauguration before pulling out, citing a “serious lapse in judgement.” The Grammy and Tony winner also said that she owed it to her LGBT fans to stand up to Trump. “My only choice must now be to stand with the LGBT Community and to state unequivocally that I WILL NOT PERFORM FOR THE WELCOME CONCERT OR FOR ANY OF THE INAUGURATION FESTIVITIES,” the singer wrote in a statement.
TMZ asked Kiss frontman Gene Simmons if the band would consider performing at the inauguration, but before he could answer, his wife, Shannon Tweed, and daughter, Sophie, interrupted with shouts of “NO!” Simmons noted that the band would be touring Europe at the time, but his wife and daughter shouted that the band had been asked to perform but had “politely declined.” Simmons, for his part, was diplomatic. “I think people should get over it and move on,” he said. “He’s our president and that’s it, end of story.”
The DJ posted on Instagram that he was asked to perform, and would gladly do so if the president-elect would release his tax returns.
Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil told Billboard magazine that the band had been invited to play the inauguration before the election was even decided, but once Trump won, their invitation was rescinded. “I asked my guys, and they said once Trump won, it was all politics,” Neil said. “I don’t know who’s playing Trump’s party, but God bless them.”
The singer said he had an initial agreement to sing “My Way” at the inauguration, but backed out to spend time with his son. “I’ve been in a custody battle for two years for my son Ethan,” Anka said in an interview with TMZ. “We have a new schedule now, and we’re unable to do it.”
While it is unclear if the R&B singer was actually asked to perform at the inauguration, R. Kelly put any rumors to rest in a tweet.
— R. Kelly (@rkelly) January 13, 2017
The British singer initially agreed to perform at the inauguration on the condition that she was able to sing protest anthem “Strange Fruit,” which was written in response to racism and lynching in the 1930s. A week later, Ferguson reported that she would not be performing due to “circumstances beyond my control.”
Correction (4:39 p.m.): This story has been updated to reflect the fact that the swearing-in ceremony begins at 11:30 a.m., not 9:30 a.m.