Celebrities return to White House after Trump drought

WASHINGTON (AP) — Celebrities are back in the White House following a pop culture backlash during the Trump years, when nearly everyone considered high-powered declined to run.

Rocker Elton John will perform his farewell tour on the South Lawn on Friday, the White House announced Tuesday, a week after singer James Taylor and hosts Jonathan and Drew Scott of HGTV’s “Property Brothers” helped celebrating new health and climate change law.

John is one of a host of artists who refused to perform for then-President Donald Trump.

Taylor sang and strummed his guitar to open last week’s event as the Scotts were among hundreds in the audience. They also joined Doug Emhoff, the husband of Vice President Kamala Harris, to film a eye-catching video promoting the provisions of the Climate Change Act.

Since taking office during a pandemic, which has put a pause on too much conviviality, Biden, 79, has also opened the White House to teenage singer Olivia Rodrigo, to talk about young people and COVID-19 vaccinations, and the South Korean boy group BTS, to discuss Asian inclusion and representation.

Last year, the Democratic president resumed the tradition of hosting an in-person reception at the White House for artists receiving Kennedy Center honors.

Actress Jennifer Garner accompanied first lady Jill Biden to West Virginia last year to visit a school-based COVID-19 vaccination site in Charleston. Garner also hosted an “In Performance” special on PBS celebrating the White House holiday.

John’s concert is titled “A Night When Hope and History Rhyme,” a reference to a poem by Irishman Seamus Heaney that Biden often quotes. The performance is part of a collaboration with A+E Networks and History Channel that “will celebrate the unifying and healing power of music, pay tribute to the life and work of Sir Elton John and honor history makers from all over the world. days in public,” the White House says. Guests will include teachers, medical professionals, students, LGBTQ+ advocates and others.

John also has a concert scheduled for Saturday night at Nationals Park in Washington as part of a tour concluding his 50+ year career. He opened the final leg of his North American farewell series in Philadelphia in July.

The 75-year-old British singer is among celebrities who have shunned Trump’s White House, starting with the Republican’s inauguration in 2017. John had declined an invitation to perform at Trump’s inaugural festivities, saying he didn’t think not that it was appropriate for someone of British descent to play at the swearing-in of an American president.

Trump had praised John in a few of his books and played John’s songs at his presidential campaign rallies, including “Rocket Man” and “Tiny Dancer.” Trump had also dubbed North Korean leader Kim Jong Un the “rocket man” because of Kim’s habit of testing missiles.

Country music singers Toby Keith and Lee Greenwood were among the most notable artists who performed to help Trump take office. Bigger names from other genres declined or weren’t considered.

Hollywood has always leaned heavily Democratic.

For Democrat Biden’s nomination, singers Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Garth Brooks were among those who performed.

Aretha Franklin and Beyonce were among the celebrities who turned out in a huge show of force for Democrat Barack Obama, from fundraising to his two inaugurations to performing inside the White House or on the field. .

They disappeared under Trump, but return for Biden.

Biden leaned on celebrities during his 2020 presidential campaign, when in-person schmoozing was largely put on hold because of the coronavirus. A parade of movie and TV stars, pop icons and sports personalities intensified to help Biden raise funds and energize supporters.

Sir Elton – he was knighted in 1998 by Queen Elizabeth II – has sold over 300 million records worldwide, played more than 4,000 shows in 80 countries and recorded one of the best-selling singles of all time, his 1997 revamp of “Candle In The Wind” to praise Princess Diana, which sold 33 million copies.

He scored more than 70 Top 40 hits, including nine No. 1s, and released seven No. 1 albums in the 3½-year span from 1972 to 1975, a pace second only to that of the Beatles. John has five Grammy Awards, a Tony Award for “Aida” and Oscars for songs in “The Lion King” and “Rocketman.”

He has played at the White House in the past.

John and Stevie Wonder performed together at a 1998 state dinner hosted by Democratic President Bill Clinton in honor of British Prime Minister Tony Blair. They played under a tent on the roof of the West Colonnade.

John criticized Republican President George W. Bush, telling a British magazine in November 2004 that Bush and his administration “are the worst thing that has ever happened to America.”

But he was more diplomatic at a White House reception in December 2004 for a group of Kennedy Center honorees that included himself.

The rock legend said receiving the honor “is the icing on the cake. … It’s incredible for someone who is British to receive such an honor from America, which has already given me so much in my career.


Associated Press writer Chris Megerian in Washington and AP News researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.

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