George W. Bush was the last Republican President before Donald J. Trump. When he took office in 2001, the country was not as polarized as it is today. And his diverse lineup of inauguration performers truly reflected the bipartisan atmosphere of the time. Here’s a breakdown of who performed at Bush’s first inauguration.
Beyoncé performed with Destiny’s Child
The theme of Bush’s 2001 inaugural concert was “Celebrating America’s Youth.” Naturally, his inaugural committee chose some of the most influential pop stars of the time to perform. Among the star-studded lineup was Beyoncé Knowles, Kelly Rowland, and Michelle Williams’ pop group, Destiny’s Child.
The trio performed two of their biggest hits, “Independent Women, Part 1″ and “Jumpin’, Jumpin’” on the eve of the inauguration. And at one point, Beyoncé encouraged the crown to chant Bush’s name.
Destiny’s Child did get some backlash for supporting the Republican president. But in a 2013 chat with Interview Magazine, Beyoncé and her mom, Tina Knowles, explained that they joined the celebration for the children who would be watching.
“It wasn’t political,” Tina said. “The agreement was that the organizers would take down all the signs and everything that was politically connected and that they [the girls] would just perform for the kids.”
“They really, really wanted us to do it, and he’s our president,” Beyoncé added. “He told us that we have a bigger influence on kids than he does a lot of the time, and he appreciates that we’re positive role models.”
Ricky Martin and Jessica Simpson also performed at George W. Bush’s inauguration
Grammy-winning pop star Ricky Martin joined in on the inaugural festivities in 2001. He riled up the crowd with his Spanish-English hit, “The Cup of Life.”
Jessica Simpson also sang at the event. And in her version of “I Think I’m In Love With You,” she swapped out the word “boy” for Bush’s first name.
One of the Bush daughters was a fan of 98 Degrees. So the committee asked the group to sing at the inauguration. The group sang two songs, “The Hardest Thing” and “My Everything.”
George W. Bush’s inauguration also featured country singers
Bush’s 2011 inauguration wasn’t all pop songs. Country music stars like Lee Greenwood, Tanya Tucker, Mark Chestnutt, Clint Black, Lyle Lovett, and Marcia Ball performed at the event. Reckless Kelly, Asleep at the Wheel, and the legendary ZZ Top were among the country groups to take the stage that day.
Bush’s second inauguration in 2005 wasn’t as big as the first. The celebration featured performances by American Idol winner Ruben Studdard, opera singers Susan Graham and Denyce Graves, JoJo, and Hillary Duff.
Beyoncé returned to the capital in 2009 when she sang Etta James’ classic, “At Last” at Barack Obama’s Inaugural Ball. She also sang the “National Anthem” at Obama’s 2013 inauguration ceremony.