January 19, 2009 / 4:32 PM / 9 years ago

Who makes the Obamas dance? Stevie Wonder!

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - What President-elect Barack Obama has on his iPod may soon be a state secret, but musicians Stevie Wonder, Garth Brooks and Pete Seeger all got the president-elect moving at a concert on Sunday.

Obama, his wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha sat sedately along with Vice President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Jill as Bruce Springsteen sang “The Rising” and Mary J. Blige did a knockout performance of “Lean on Me.”

The concert, held in freezing weather on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the Mall in Washington, D.C., aimed to kick off celebrations marking Tuesday’s inauguration of Obama as the first African-American U.S. president.

Early in the show, Obama’s daughter Sasha, 7, fidgeted and a seemingly bored Malia, 10, laid her head on her mother’s shoulder. Obama chatted occasionally with Biden as the two families sat behind bullet-proof glass at the side of the stage.

But there were signs of life when Garth Brooks took the stage, first singing “American Pie” and then “Shout,” during which the first lady-to-be shot her hand into her air with Sasha.

Then came Stevie Wonder, Usher and Shakira -- the most diverse set of performers in a remarkably diverse show. Wonder and Usher are African-American while Shakira is a Colombian of Lebanese descent. With Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” the Obamas were on their feet and even did a bit of dancing.

Obama stood up with his family as Jamie Foxx shouted, “Chi-town, stand up!” The president-elect also laughed heartily at Foxx’s imitation of his sometimes monotone, staccato style of speaking.

The Obamas sang along to “This Land is Your Land,” performed by Bruce Springsteen, Pete Seeger and a grandson of Seeger, as did the gigantic crowd that stretched from the Lincoln Memorial down to the Washington Monument.

They also sang with Beyonce as she performed “America the Beautiful.”

Jon Bon Jovi, Sheryl Crow, Josh Groban, John Mellencamp and Irish band U2 also performed. Speakers included Steve Carell, Queen Latifah, Denzel Washington and Tiger Woods.

Sarah Rohrer, 28, from Dayton, Ohio, was one of the thousands in the crowd despite freezing temperatures on a gray, overcast January day. Rohrer came to Washington on business and stayed a few extra days to come to the concert because she wanted to join in the excitement.

“There’s a new spirit in being involved in politics,” she said.

The memorial is a touchstone for African-Americans. It was here that Marian Anderson sang in 1939 after being barred from Constitution Hall because of her race and where Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.

Speaking on the steps of the Memorial to Abraham Lincoln, who took office as the Civil War loomed, Obama expressed optimism despite the fact that he will take office on Tuesday amid two wars and the worst economic crisis since the 1930s.

“There is no doubt that our road will be long. That our climb will be steep,” he added. “But never forget that the true character of our nation is revealed not during times of comfort and ease, but by the right we do when the moment is hard.”

(Additional reporting by Rachelle Younglai)

Reporting by Diane Bartz; Editing by Eric Walsh

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