Vanessa Williams, the first Black woman to be named Miss America, will perform a rendition of the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing.
Vanessa Williams will not only honour the nation’s traditional independence day, but also the country’s newly declared holiday, Juneteenth, when she presents this year’s televised Capitol Fourth event.
Williams, the first Black woman to be named Miss America, will perform the song Lift Every Voice and Sing, which has functioned as the Black National Anthem since its inception.
“It’s in honour of the fantastic chance we now have to commemorate Juneteenth. So we’re reflective of the times,” she said while presenting this year’s event to the Associated Press on Thursday.
She sung Not While I’m Around, a song from Stephen Sondheim’s musical Sweeney Todd, in an attempt to express how she felt as the mother of a Black kid.
“It was certainly symbolic of George Floyd and how everyone felt that pain,” Williams said of the song, which “talked about simply the bond that you have with your child and trying to protect them.”
Somewhere from West Side Story, another Sondheim song, conjures up the fantasy of a better world. Williams explained, “It’s a great epic concept of there being a place for us someplace.” “We’ll get there eventually, to peace and quiet and open air. So, last year, I had the opportunity to address that.”
Williams has been a regular at the annual concert since 2005, performing or co-hosting on several occasions. Elmo was her first duet partner, she recalled. “So, when I host this year, Kermit will perform a few of songs with me. I’ll also be singing, of course.”
Despite the fact that Covid’s limitations have lately been relaxed, the show will continue to observe social distance. As in past years, none of the acts will be broadcast live from the West Lawn. “Performers will be scattered around New York, California, Nashville, and other cities,” Williams added.
Broadway stars Cynthia Erivo, Christopher Jackson, and Laura Osnes will be among the performers this year. Gladys Knight, the R&B legend, country stars Alan Jackson and Jennifer Nettles, and the iconic Jimmy Buffett.
Then there are a select guests who are literally out of this planet. “We have three of our astronauts up in the space station who will be sending us a special Fourth of July message,” Williams added.