Whatever your political affiliation, you had to agree it was a momentous occasion: the inauguration of the country’s first African-American president. To help celebrate it, a free event, “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration,” was mounted on Jan. 18, 2009 — two days before the inauguration — at the Lincoln Memorial, with some 400,000 people attending and many more watching on television. Performers included Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger, Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder, Garth Brooks, Josh Groban and James Taylor, and Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, Queen Latifah and others read historical passages.
One of the highlights was a deeply emotional duet on Sam Cooke’s Civil Rights Era anthem, “A Change Is Gonna Come,” by two New Jerseyans, Jon Bon Jovi and Bettye LaVette. (A Michigan native who started performing in the Civil Rights Era herself, LaVette has experienced a remarkable career resurgence since moving to West Orange in 2003.)
Watch their performance below, and marvel at how relaxed they both seem, singing in public with each other for the first time, at such a meaningful event, with so many people watching.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.
CONTRIBUTE TO NJARTS.NET
Since launching in September 2014, NJArts.net, a 501(c)(3) organization, has become one of the most important media outlets for the Garden State arts scene. And it has always offered its content without a subscription fee, or a paywall. Its continued existence depends on support from members of that scene, and the state’s arts lovers. Please consider making a contribution of $20, or any other amount, to NJArts.net via PayPal, or by sending a check made out to NJArts.net to 11 Skytop Terrace, Montclair, NJ 07043.