President-elect Donald Trump will take the traditional ride from the White House to the Capitol with his predecessor before his inauguration next week, but he will break from some of the day's other customs, trading traditional celebrity appearances for the “soft sensuality” of the historic event.
Tom Barrack, a longtime Trump friend serving as his top inauguration planner, told reporters Tuesday at Trump Tower that the president-elect instructed him to make the swearing-in “about the people, not about him.”
“So what we've done, instead of trying to surround him with what people consider A-listers, is we are going to surround him with the soft sensuality of the place,” Barrack said. “It's a much more poetic cadence than having a circus-like celebration that’s a coronation. It will be beautiful. The cadence of it is going to be, ‘Let me get back to work.’”
Inauguration organizers have been rebuffed by several celebrities, among them British singers Charlotte Church, who wrote Tuesday on Twitter that while Trump's “staff have asked me to sing at your inauguration, a simple internet search would show I think you're a tyrant. Bye.”
Rebecca Ferguson, a runner-up on The X Factor in the U.K., wrote on her website Tuesday that she, too, had declined to take part. She wrote that she would have only performed at the Jan. 20 inauguration if she were allowed to sing Billie Holiday's “Strange Fruit,” a song that protested racism and the lynching of African Americans.
The entertainers who have agreed to take part in the festivities are Jackie Evancho, of America's Got Talent, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the Radio City Rockettes. No details have been announced for the official welcome concert on the eve of the inauguration, beyond a promise to feature “a diverse group of performers.”
Barrack, a private equity real estate investor, said Trump has opted to make the inauguration a celebration of everyday Americans and the military. He added that inauguration planners are “fortunate in that we have the greatest celebrity in the world, which is the president-elect.”
Since his election, including on his raucous “thank you” tour to states that helped deliver him the White House, Trump has made little effort to reach out to those who didn't vote for him. But Barrack said the president-elect wanted his inauguration to be a unifying event.
“'The campaign is over, I am now president for all the people,”' Barrack said Trump told him. “'I want you to build a bridge and tie them back in. I was to heal the wounds and I want to get back to work on Saturday morning.”'
Barrack also confirmed that Trump and his wife, Melania, would visit with President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama at the White House on Friday morning before riding together to the ceremony at the Capitol.