The Mormon Tabernacle Choir sang America the Beautiful, and the Missouri State University Chorale sang Now We Belong, in a ceremony that featured decidedly less star power than in 2013. At President Barack Obama’s second inauguration, Beyoncé sang the anthem, James Taylor sang America the Beautiful, and Kelly Clarkson sang a powerful My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.
The various inauguration performances have exposed the obvious divisions in the country following the election of Donald Trump, who is deeply unpopular in Hollywood. A number of artists declined the opportunity to perform, and Broadway singer Jennifer Holliday even said she’d received death threats before she pulled out of her scheduled appearance.
At the Peace Ball, the main attraction, Solange Knowles, didn’t hit the stage until close to midnight, but the 3,000 or so enthusiastic guests packed into the National Museum of African American History and Culture weren’t going anywhere.
The evening, organized by progressive activist Andy Shallal, also featured jazz singer Esperanza Spalding and a dance party. Guests included actors Danny Glover, Fran Drescher and Ellen Page. Angela Davis and Alice Walker were also in attendance.
Glover addressed the fact that although the event was described as a nonpartisan celebration of successes in recent years in areas such as health care, climate change and marriage equality, the room was filled with people unhappy with the results of the election.
The stars were also out in New York Thursday night, with actors Robert De Niro, Alec Baldwin, Sally Field and Mark Ruffalo, filmmaker Michael Moore and the mayors of Minneapolis and New York joining hundreds of others outside Trump International Hotel and Tower near Central Park for a pre-inauguration demonstration.
Organizers said the protest was meant to energize those concerned about Trump’s policies on health care, the environment and other issues. Documentary maker Moore urged people to regularly call their representatives in Congress, while Baldwin, who portrays Trump on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, said Americans wary of Trump’s policies should become more involved.
Among the groups that helped organize the event were Greenpeace, Planned Parenthood and MoveOn.org.
The pop star spoke from the Brooklyn Museum, where she and artist Marilyn Minter discussed creating art in a time of protest among other topics, with moderator, author and poet Elizabeth Alexander, who performed a work at the Obama’s first inauguration.
“We can only go up from here, so what are we going to do? We have two choices, destruction and creation. I chose creation,” said Madonna, who along with Minter vowed to lead protests against Trump, including by attending Saturday’s Women’s March in Washington.
“I do believe that Trump was elected for a reason: to show us how lazy and un-unified and lackadaisical and taking for granted we’ve become of our freedom and the rights that we have as Americans,” the singer said.
“They always say it’s darkest before the dawn and I feel this had to happen to bring people together, so let’s get this party started.”