Host Of ‘A Capitol Fourth’ Celebration To Sing ‘Black National Anthem’

For roughly forty years, a concert titled “A Capitol Fourth” has been offered on the Capitol Grounds featuring the National Symphony Orchestra and assorted artists to celebrate Independence Day on July 4. This year, the concert will feature host Vanessa Williams, the first black woman to be named Miss America and later a Broadway and recording star, singing “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is popularly known as the “Black National Anthem.”

A Capitol Fourth was first televised in 1981 PBS station WETA,and has been televised by public broadcasting every year since. It is often the most widely-watched PBS show of the year.Williams told the Associated Press, “It’s in celebration of the wonderful opportunity that we now have to celebrate Juneteenth. So we are reflective of the times.”

“Williams told the AP this week that she hopes the hymn will bring a sense of celebration following her performance at last year’s Independence Day show, where she sang ‘Not While I’m Around from the Stephen Sondheim musical ‘Sweeney Todd’ to express what she was feeling as the mother of a Black son in the weeks following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd,” The Hill reported.

“I am so honored to be hosting A Capitol Fourth this year. I first performed on this national July 4th TV tradition in 2005, and it has always held a special place in my heart,” Williams said.“Planning has been underway for many months for A Capitol Fourth to be a pre-recorded show due to the pandemic with a live fireworks presentation, in lieu of the traditional live concert on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol,” PBS noted.

The concert, which will commence with the singing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by opera star Renee Fleming, will also feature performers including Jimmy Buffett, Cynthia Erivo, Alan Jackson, Pentatonix, Jennifer Nettles, Auli’i Cravalho, Train, Gladys Knight, Mickey Guyton, Ali Stroker, Jimmie Allen, and Laura Osnes, among others. The National Symphony Orchestra will perform film composer John Williams’ “Olympic Fanfare.”

Executive Producer Michael Colbert said, “As families and friends reunite and the country begins to open up this Fourth of July, we plan to bring you an exciting program with the greatest fireworks display in the nation, performances by the biggest stars and patriotic favorites. Make A Capitol Fourth your Independence Day celebration. We have something for everyone’s party.”

“The top-rated, award-winning program available on television, radio and digital media will feature a rousing rendition of Tchaikovsky’s ‘1812 Overture’ with the National Symphony Orchestra and The Joint Armed Forces Chorus to accompany the fireworks, an audience favorite and an A Capitol Fourth tradition. Also participating are members of the U.S. Army Band ‘Pershing’s Own,’ the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, The Joint Armed Forces Chorus, and The Armed Forces Color Guard provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C.,” PBS advertised.

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