The star power during the “We Are One” concert was unbelievable, and the sense of patriotism in the readings, speeches and performances during the show — which was broadcast live from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. — set the tone for Barack Obama’s upcoming inauguration.
Denzel Washington was the first celebrity to hit the stage, stressing to the crowd the show’s theme of unity. His speech was followed by Bruce Springsteen’s rousing performance of post-9/11 anthem “The Rising.” The show was filled with nods to famous Americans: Laura Linney reminded everyone of FDR’s “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” speech with Martin Luther King Jr.’s son by her side, and Tom Hanks paid tribute to Abraham Lincoln.
But it was the music that really stood out.
[artist id="854"]Mary J. Blige[/artist] sang “Lean on Me,” which was followed up by
[artist id="3288"]Jon Bon Jovi’s[/artist] duet with Bettye LaVette on Sam Cooke’s civil-rights anthem “A Change Is Gonna Come.” James Taylor and John Legend got together for Taylor’s hit “Shower the People.” Then John Mellencamp got onstage for his song “Ain’t That America.”
The celebrity sightings didn’t end there.
[artist id="980"]Sheryl Crow[/artist] and [artist id="1521450"]Will.I.Am[/artist] collaborated on Bob Marley’s “One Love,” while [artist id="1270"]Usher[/artist], [artist id="504144"]Shakira[/artist] and Stevie Wonder joined up for “Higher Ground.”
The big performances of the night came at the end. U2 performed two of their hits , “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and the Obama-approved “City of Blinding Lights,” noting that the whole world is ready for Obama’s presidency.
[artist id="1022"]U2[/artist] were followed up by Obama himself, talking about the hard times to come, the pool stretching out in front of him reflecting Dr. King’s dreams and the monument behind him to a president who made it possible for him to be there today.
Bruce Springsteen and Pete Seeger took the stage to sing “This Land Is Your Land,” and Beyoncé brought it all home with her performance of “America the Beautiful.”
“Be the Change: Live From the Inaugural” will air live on MTV on Tuesday, January 20, at 10 p.m. ET/PT. MTV News will have wall-to-wall coverage of the event and of the scenes in Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Kenya in the days leading up to the event and in the days that follow.