10 Memorable Inauguration Performances – Biography

Ceremonies accompanying the quadrennial U.S. presidential inauguration have changed significantly since George Washington delivered a private address to Congress and danced the minuet at his 1789 inauguration, with festivities later stretching across multiple days and expanding to include each era’s biggest names in arts and entertainment. Here are 10 of the most memorable inauguration performances in recent decades:

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Marian Anderson (1957)

In an acknowledgment that the times were a-changin’, Dwight Eisenhower invited Black opera star Marian Anderson to sing at his second inauguration, 18 years after her rejection from D.C.’s Constitution Hall led to a legendary outdoor performance at the Lincoln Memorial. Anderson subsequently delivered a flawless rendition of the national anthem in front of the commander-in-chief, showing that a Black woman could represent the country just as well as the white men invited to the stage that day, and paving the way for performers of all colors to welcome future presidents into office.

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