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A Commander-in-Chief performance

President Barack Obama is drawing an A-list of performers for his inaugural festivities, including a massive ball expected to draw more than 35,000 revelers.

Katy Perry, Smokey Robinson, Usher, Alicia Keys and Brad Paisley are among the stars announced Friday to sing at Obama's inaugural balls Jan. 21 and a children's concert on Jan. 19. Also signed up are Marc Anthony, Stevie Wonder, John Legend and the cast of "Glee."

The concert and the two official inaugural balls are being held at the Washington Convention Center over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend when Obama begins his second term. The performers join Beyonce, Kelly Clarkson and James Taylor, already announced for Obama's signing ceremony Jan. 21 on the West Front of the Capitol.

Other event performers include pop-rap foursome Far East Movement, Grammy-nominated pop-rock trio fun., R&B boy band Mindless Behavior, rapper Nick Cannon and youth gospel choir Soul Children of Chicago. Inaugural organizers aren't saying yet which performances will be at which convention centre event.

Robinson told The Associated Press he'll be at The Inaugural Ball with his own band, but he isn't sure yet which songs he'll sing. Robinson said he's always happy to perform when the president asks because he's so proud of the first family.

"I've been in the White House many, many, many times for many presidents and this is the first time for me that it's really felt like when I go to the White House or something like that, it feels like you're going to your family's," Robinson said. "It feels like you're going home because that's how they treat me and that's how they treat my wife."

While Obama has cut the number of inaugural balls lower than any president since Dwight Eisenhower was first sworn into office in 1953, the two celebrations will be elaborate. The larger of the events, simply called The Inaugural Ball, is expected to draw more than 35,000 in a reflection of the quadrennial demand in Washington to toast the president in person on such a historic day.

The Inaugural Ball is being held across all 700,000 square feet of the Washington Convention Center's five exhibit halls, which four years ago held six separate balls.

The second gala is the Commander-In-Chief's Ball, a tradition started by President George W. Bush to honour the military. Doubling in size from four years ago to about 4,000, it's being held on the third-floor ballroom of the convention hall a mile from the White House. Tickets are free for invitees, including active-duty and reserve troops, Medal of Honor recipients and wounded warriors.

Demand has been high for entry to the two official affairs. Inaugural planners offered a limited number of tickets to The Inaugural Ball for sale at $60, and they sold out quickly Sunday night when Ticketmaster accidentally sent out an email ahead of time announcing they were available. Inaugural organizers are trying to stop a swift scalping business for the tickets, which have been cropping up for sale online.

The Canadian Press


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