According to sources familiar with the planning, casino mogul Steve Wynn is helping to wrangle performers for the festivities, which, according to a donor package unveiled last week, include a concert and fireworks on the National Mall. Sources say that among the musicians mentioned as real possibilities: Lee Greenwood and Garth Brooks.
Wynn, who is on the inaugural committee, was unavailable for comment, according to a representative.
But Trump’s people will have their work cut out for them.
So much of the entertainment industry backed Hillary Clinton in the presidential race, including performers like Katy Perry and Justin Timberlake, and it’s hard to see many or any of her backers trekking to Washington. Madonna recently said in a Billboard interview that Clinton’s loss was like the feeling of a loved one dying. After a member of Trump’s inaugural committee told a reporter that Elton John would be performing for Trump, the singer’s representatives denied it.
There is plenty of precedent for star-studded affairs. The weekend before Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, a stream of A-list celebrities and musicians gathered at the Lincoln Memorial for a concert. Bruce Springsteen, U2, Pete Seeger and Beyonce performed in the sub-freezing weather to a crowd that stretched along the reflecting pool to the Washington Monument. Springsteen and Beyonce each performed for Clinton on the campaign trail, and U2’s Bono took to blasting Trump at concerts in the weeks before the election.
That will be tough to match.
Those who have been involved in planning for previous inaugural events and concerts say that the first people who they reach out to usually are those who showed up on the campaign trail. In Trump’s case, Ted Nugent performed for him and Jon Voight narrated a convention video. If past inaugurals of Republican victors are any guide, there will be plenty of country music personalities in the mix, too.
Earlier this week, Trump met with Mark Burnett, the creator and executive producer of “The Apprentice,” to talk about inauguration plans. According to the New York Times, they discussed ideas like a ticker-tape parade up Fifth Avenue to Trump Tower and a helicopter ride to Washington.
But a knowledgeable source says Trump told the team that he favors a more “traditional” approached and nixed the idea of a dramatic helicopter entrance or parade. Thomas Barrack, who chairs the inaugural committee, described the inaugural as a “seamless canvas of harmony, inclusion and democracy.” The key planner of the inaugural’s celebratory balls and other events is veteran New York event maven Stephanie Winston Wolkoff, known for presiding over the glitzy Met Ball for a decade. Other experienced TV and entertainment producers have quietly joined the inauguration planning effort in the past week or so, a source said.
The most viewed of all inaugural festivities — The Jan. 20 swearing in ceremony at the Capitol — is not planned by the Trump team, but a joint congressional committee, led this year by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). Deference is given to the president-elect’s preferences for who will perform (such as Yo-Yo Ma in 2009) but the committee has the final say.
Despite the credentials of the planners, it’s still likely to be tough for Team Trump to bring high-wattage celebrities to D.C. for inaugural festivities after such a hard-fought and divisive presidential campaign. In 2001, Ricky Martin performed at a Lincoln Memorial concert tied to George W. Bush’s first inauguration, but caught some flack from fans afterward for showing up. It’d be quite a surprise if Martin came to Trump’s inaugural. After all, Martin endorsed Clinton.