Washington may have been freezing today but Beyonce and Kelly Clarkson were on fire at President Obama’s second — and last — inauguration ceremony held in front of the Capitol Building in Washington D.C.
Grammy winners, Clarkson and Beyonce knocked it out of the park as they delivered iconic songs that are part of America’s rich, dramatic history.
Despite the cold, around 700,000 people attended the inauguration. Those numbers are far lower than the 1.8 million that thronged the National Mall for Obama’s first inauguration four years ago, BBC News reports.
But for the 700,000 that came today, feelings may have been running high after Barack Obama’s stirring but hard-hitting speech.
In a speech that ran to 2,095 words, and seen by many as better than his first seminal address in 2009, Obama referenced the economy, climate change, Lincoln, the founding fathers, civil rights and equality. He is also now the first US president to use the word “gay” in an inaugural address, when he said:
“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
And there was steely resolve too, as he declared:
“This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun. America’s possibilities are limitless for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.”
According to GQ magazine, after his speech a television camera caught Obama looking down the mall while musing, “I’m just going to take a look one more time. I won’t see this again.”
After the spoken words, it was music’s turn to move the masses.
Folk hero James Taylor kicked things off with his rendition of “America the Beautiful.”
Next up was 30-year-old American Idol winner, Kelly Clarkson.
Accompanied by the US Marine Band for her performance of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” — previously performed by Aretha Franklin during Obama’s first inauguration — Clarkson sang her heart out until the very last note.
After her performance, Clarkson tweeted a tongue-in-cheek message, writing:
“Wow….I was incredibly nervous and cold ha! I just wanna officially thank President Obama for opening for me haha! Just kidding :)”
Then, Beyonce. Stepping forward to deliver America’s National Anthem, the 31-year-old Houston native sent the “Star Spangled Banner” soaring.
Check out President Obama’s speech and the performances from Clarkson and Beyonce below. What were your thoughts on the ceremony and do you think it delivered, considering the cost?