Vanessa Williams to honor Juneteenth at July 4 festivities

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NEW YORK (AP) — When Vanessa Williams hosts this 12 months’s televised Capitol Fourth celebration, she is not going to solely honor the nation’s conventional independence day, but in addition the nation’s newly designated vacation — Juneteenth.

Williams, who was the primary Black girl to be topped Miss America, will sing “Carry Each Voice and Sing,” which has served because the Black Nationwide Anthem.

“It’s in celebration of the fantastic alternative that we now need to have fun Juneteenth. So we’re reflective of the occasions,” she advised the Related Press on Thursday whereas selling this 12 months’s present.

Juneteenth commemorates the emancipation of African American slaves and has been celebrated yearly on June 19 in numerous components of the US. It was made a federal vacation this 12 months.

“A Capitol Fourth” is marking 41 years on the air. The present is broadcast to tens of millions of viewers on PBS and streaming platforms in addition to troops across the globe.

Williams serves as host this 12 months but it surely’s not be the primary time that she‘s introduced present social modifications to the festivities. Finally 12 months’s present, Williams stated her musical picks expressed the angst that Black ladies — particularly moms — have been feeling.

She sang the Stephen Sondheim music, “Not Whereas I’m Round,” from his musical “Sweeney Todd,” an try to speak what she was feeling because the mom of a Black son.

The music “talked about simply the connection that you’ve together with your baby and wanting to guard them, which was positively reflective of George Floyd and the way everyone felt that ache,” Williams stated.

One other Sondheim music, “Someplace” from “West Facet Story,” conjured the dream of hope for a greater world. “It’s a giant epic concept about there’s a spot for us someplace,” Williams stated. “Peace and quiet and open air, we’ll get there sometime. So, I bought an opportunity to handle that final 12 months.”

Williams has been no stranger to the annual present, having carried out or co-hosted quite a few occasions since 2005. She recalled her first duet companion was Elmo. “So, this 12 months, Kermit goes to be doing a few songs with me as I host. And, in fact, I’ll be singing.”

Whereas COVID restrictions have just lately eased up, the present will nonetheless respect social distancing. Not one of the performances might be stay on the West Garden as they have been in earlier years. “Performers might be distant in New York and California, Nashville, everywhere,” Williams stated,

This 12 months’s lineup will embrace Broadway phenoms like Cynthia Erivo, Christopher Jackson, and Laura Osnes. R&B legend Gladys Knight, nation stars Alan Jackson and Jennifer Nettles, and the enduring Jimmy Buffett.

After which there are a couple of company which are out of this world — actually. “Now we have three of our astronauts which are up within the house station that might be giving us a particular message for the Fourth of July” Williams stated.

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