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Zwecker: Inaugural jitters for Beyonce and Kelly Clarkson

Beyonce husbJay-Z arrive for Presidential Inauguraticeremonial swearing-in. Beyonce wore black-embellished Emilio Pucci gown warded off D.C. chill with knee-length Christian

Beyonce and husband Jay-Z arrive for the Presidential Inauguration ceremonial swearing-in. Beyonce wore a black-embellished Emilio Pucci gown and warded off the D.C. chill with a knee-length Christian Dior coat. | Jewel Samad~Getty Images

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Updated: February 23, 2013 6:17AM



B eyonce and Kelly Clarkson have sold millions of albums and performed live in front of legions of fans, but both stars said Monday they were more nervous about singing the national anthem and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” respectively, than anything else they have ever done.

“This was one time you knew the whole nation — and likely the whole world — would be watching,” a close associate of Beyonce quoted her as saying. “You have to simply do it right and give it your all.” The singer’s husband, fellow superstar and music mogul Jay-Z was seen repeatedly squeezing his wife’s hand and patting her knee as they waited for her to perform, following the president’s second inaugural address.

During her performance of “The Star Spangeled Banner,” Beyonce was seen pulling her earpiece out. Later it was learned she was experiencing audio feedback — a frequent problem in televised productions — causing her to hear a very distracting “echo” of what she had just sung.

Proof of her professionalism, the superstar didn’t miss a line or flub anything — performing the anthem without a hitch.

Clarkson, who found fame as the first “American Idol” winner, was overheard saying on the stage at the Capitol, “Now, that was so nerve-wracking!”

Earlier, both singers had expressed concerns about the cold weather affecting their singing voices, but fortunately the forecast of a colder day did not come true, and the temperature was relatively mild for a typical January in Washington.

A less positive musical episode took place earlier on Inaugural weekend when Chicagoan Lupe Fiasco performed at the StartUp RockOn Inauguration Day celebration Saturday. It was unclear why Fiasco was even invited to participate, given he has previously strongly criticized President Obama — once calling him “the biggest terrorist.”

However, after telling the crowd he hadn’t voted for the president — generating a chorus of boos — he then proceeded to spend 30 minutes performing his anti-war song “Words I Never Said,” before he was finally escorted out by security, to the cheers of the gathered throng.

While the second Obama inaugural attracted far fewer celebrities than his first in 2009, there certainly were plenty of famous faces in Washington the past few days. Oprah Winfrey and Bruce Springsteen may not have been there, but K aty Perry and her supposed beau John Mayer were there, as were Cyndi Lauper, Lady Gaga, James Taylor, Jamie Foxx. Stevie Wonder, John Legend, Smokey Robinson, the cast of “Glee,” Marc Anthony and Eva Longoria — many performing at various Inauguration-related events and some, like Longoria, deeply involved in the planning and execution of specific galas and programs.

Longoria, an honorary co-chair of the Inauguration festivities, raised a lot of money for the president’s re-election and showcased her organizational skills and political savvy, leading to rumors about her possibly running for office herself. Those stories were quickly put to rest Monday by sources close to the actress who stressed her interest in politics is strictly as an activist and not as someone interested in a political career.

From the sports world, NBA legend Bill Russell was one of many famous athletes in D.C for the Inauguration — unfortunately mis-identified on ABC by George Stephanopoulos Monday as actor Morgan Freeman. While Stephanopoulos quickly corrected himself, the Sun-Times has learned both Russell and Freeman were amused by the gaffe.

Longtime Obama supporter Will.I.am of the Black Eyed Peas said he was thrilled to have both his mother and his aunt with him for this year’s festivities. A member of the Peas organization told the Sun-Times Will.I.am wanted the women “to experience what he experienced the first time. They were thrilled to be invited, as you can imagine.”

Chicagoan Common was one of several celebs who expressed the hope the president’s second term would be marked by less political strife than was seen so frequently in his first term. At the Ourtime.org “Generation Now” party Saturday, Common told the New York Daily News, the president “should continue to do what he is doing,” adding he thinks Obama’s second term will be marked by “motivation and inspiration. … Expect it. Change for the better.”



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