Around 300,000 people gathered for a free concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial today to kickoff inaugural festivities in Washington D.C. President-elect Obama and his family were on stage while performers such as Bono, Stevie Wonder, Bruce Springsteen, and Beyonce performed. Only the speeches were televised live. HBO bought the rights to the performances. You can see them tonight at 7 p.m. Eastern Time on HBO cable network.
I was standing with the crowd around the reflecting pool, watching on the Jumbotrons. I sent minute-by-minute reports to Twitter as each celebrity took the stage -- at least until the very end when my cell phone battery went dead just as Beyonce was closing the event with the National Anthem.
Here's a recap of my Twitters:
2:37 p.m. It's cold at the Lincoln Memorial. President-elect Barack Obama is being introduced now. People are climbing trees and throwing beach balls. The beach balls all have Obama's name on them! Ellen and Stevie Wonder are waiting on the sidelines with Obamas and Bidens.
The theme of the program is "We Are One." After the national anthem, Denzel Washington took the stage to ear piercing screams.
Bruce Springsteen is the first act. The Boss! He is only one of the big names due to perform here. This is so exciting! Martin Luther King III just spoke and now Mary J. Blige is leading a sing-a-long of "Lean on Me."
Jamie Foxx is doing an impersonation of
Barack Obama, which is getting lots of applause. There's some mic
feedback, but we can still hear. The crowd is shouting, "Change is coming!
Change is coming!" Now Tom Hanks is talking about Abe Lincoln while
some very dramatic music plays.
Vice-President Elect Joe Biden is speaking now. The crowd is chanting, "Joe, Joe, Joe!"
The crowd is now dancing and really having a great time to the song "Bye, Bye, Miss American Pie!" The energy just keeps growing. Usher was his fine self! Followed by Stevie Wonder who has the crowd really singing and dancing.
3:41 p.m. President-elect Obama is sitting on the stage with his family. Whenever the camera shows him on the big screens, the crowd cheers!
The artists are having just as much fun as we are out in the audience. Shakira and Steve Wonder are kidding with each other on stage. Bono from U2 is performing now. He's an international rock star and humanitarian.
4:01 Obama is speaking now! It will take years to meet all the challenges this nation faces, he said. Despite that he is as hopeful as ever. "Directly in front of us is a pool that reflects the dream of a king," he said referring to a speech Martin Luther King gave in same spot. The crowd has gone silent with the powerfulness of Obama's words. Flags are flapping and snapping in the cold wind.
"The dreams of our founders will be carried out," he said, in his very brief message. He will become President in less than 44 hours.
Jumbotrons line the National Mall and the reflecting pool as thousands and thousands and thousands listen to Obama speak.
4:20 p.m. As Obama finishes his speech, the crowd is beginning to chant his name.
People are now beginning to leave the area as the a band plays "This Land is Your Land."
4:30 p.m. Beyonce ended it all with the National Anthem, sung among cheers and shouts of joy!
Next stop for me: MTV Be The Change Breakfast on Monday morning. Check back for my report and pictures.
Photo: Bruce Springsteen sings "The Rising" in front of a choir during "We Are One: Opening Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial" in Washington, Sunday, Jan. 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)