John Legend’s Inauguration Performance Means More Than You Realize

John Legend has marked plenty of milestones in his storied career. He’s the first Black man to win an EGOT (that’s winning an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony). He has 11 Grammy wins and an incredible 33 Grammy nominations to his name. And on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, Legend made history once again, this time marking a symbolic milestone with his performance at the star-studded Celebrating America event that followed President Biden’s inauguration.

Legend performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. hours after Vice President Kamala Harris was sworn into office. Harris is the first woman and the first person of Black and South Asian heritage to hold the vice presidential office. Legend and Harris have both set incredible firsts — and the fact that he could honor her at former President Lincoln’s footsteps is especially symbolic. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation and shared various anti-slavery quotes during his lifetime (though, by definition, he wasn’t an abolitionist), so the celebration of two Black Americans and their achievements at the Lincoln Memorial was particularly poignant. 

That poignance wasn’t lost on the audience, who took to Twitter to share what the performance meant to them. Here’s what the net had to say. 

Fans loved seeing John Legend perform at the Lincoln Memorial

President Biden and Vice President Harris’ swearing-in was already an emotional event, but Legend’s Celebrating America performance evoked plenty of feelings, too. “Uhm, @johnlegend with the Lincoln Monument singing FEELING GOOD. I’m not crying. You’re crying!” tweeted Gloria Calderón Kellett, the co-showrunner of Netflix’s One Day at a Time. “Swear I saw Lincoln tapping his foot to @johnlegend,” tweeted former U.S. Representative Tom Perriello.

Legend’s choice of song was also a noteworthy one. He performed “Feeling Good,” made famous by Nina Simone, and the lyrics couldn’t be more apt for the transition of power to the Biden administration. “It’s a new dawn / It’s a new day / It’s a new life for me,” Legend aptly sang at the steps of the memorial. 

“Marvelous! John Legend sings ‘Feeling Good’ in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Our ancestors dreamed big for us. Let’s dream BIG for generations to come,” another person tweeted. Beautifully said — and a great way to ring in America’s next chapter.

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