Let’s Relive Kelly Clarkson’s Triumphant 2013 Inauguration Performance
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Let’s, for a second, retreat to January 2013. Four years ago, Barack Obama had just been elected to his second term as President of the United States, the Dow Jones had surged past 13,000 points for the first time in five years and states across the country were raising the minimum wage. Hope was alive and well, and Kelly Clarkson scribbled a thick exclamation point onto the end of the sentiment.
While president-elect Donald Trump is struggling to get anyone to perform at (or attend) his January 20 inauguration, President Obama’s swearing into office could have doubled as a beloved vocalists’ showcase. Beyonce delivered a beautiful (if controversial) introduction, James Taylor proceeded to share a slice of Americana and, though Washington D.C. was freezing cold, Clarkson very swiftly moved to warm the trembling crowd of one-million Americans.
Backed by the United States Marine Band, Clarkson settled into “My Country Tis of Thee” — the lyrics of which were written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1831 — smoothly and without pretense. As the wind blew, Clarkson’s voice began to surge, though, and by the 2:00 mark in the clip above, she’d begun one of the most famous and stirring swells of her career.
Sen. Chuck Schumer famously declared “Wow” when Clarkson returned the microphone to its stand, and a truck full of news producers calling the event echoed the sentiment. Yahoo! has since called it one of the best performances in the history of the event, and commenters on the The New York Times’ YouTube post seemed equally as incredulous by the singer’s skill.
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— Rod Snyder (@RodSnyderWV) January 21, 2013
“Kelly Clarkson’s voice is one of things that makes me a proud American. Her voice blows me always every-time I hear her,” one wrote, while another noted: “She’s a class act all the way, humble, gracious and a little awe-struck by the moment and the company. Kelly, you’ve become an American classic.” A third shared: “Kelly, I have not felt that strongly about one or our patriotic songs in forever. Thank you for restoring the faith. Today I felt proud to be an American.”
Anyway, this is all to say that if you’re dreading Trump’s inauguration, if bumbling secretary nomination proceedings have rendered you hopeless, if the normalizing of hateful rhetoric and pointed judgment has left you ready to throw in the towel, remember that we’re not too far gone. Just a few years ago, optimism was abundant — Clarkson, herself, testified to the idea.
“I think it’s going to be the coolest thing ever to look back with my grandkids and go: ‘I was a part of that and I’m proud of that.'” she said, according to The Associated Press. “What an honor to be a part of history! Obama’s presence was powerful and his words unforgettable. It’s a proud day for America!”
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