First lady Michelle Obama, center, and daughters Sasha, left, and Malia, right, react during the "Kids' Inaugural: Our Children. Our Future" event in Washington, on Jan. 19. (Frank Franklin II / The Associated Press)
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WASHINGTON — Usher sang "Yeah!" Katy Perry donned star and stripes for "Firework." And a ballroom full of lucky kids got to rock out with Sasha and Malia Obama at Saturday's Kids' Inaugural Concert, a star-studded event that honors America's military families.
"Now, inauguration is a pretty big deal," first lady Michelle Obama, who hosted the event along with Jill Biden, told the assembled families at the Washington Convention Center. "But I have to tell you that my very favorite part of this entire weekend is being right here with all of you." She paid tribute to the sacrifices that military families make, including their kids.
Pointing out that such kids often attend six to nine schools by the end of high school, always having to be "the new kid," she said being a military kid meant "growing up just a little faster, and working just a little harder than other kids." The concert was streamed live to several military bases around the country.
This was the second such concert for the Obama girls, and the choice of talent seemed to reflect the fact that they are four years older. While in 2009 they were entertained by Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers, this time it was Usher and Perry, along with the groups Mindless Behavior and Far East Movement. Also performing were cast members from the Fox TV hit "Glee."
Usher, in black leather, kicked off the proceedings with his hit "Yeah!," followed by "Without You" and "OMG," earning a huge cheer from the crowd. In between acts, there were kid-friendly diversions like a dance-off, or a race among mascots of the Washington Nationals: oversized versions of presidents like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt.
Three members of the "Glee" cast were greeted warmly by the crowd: Naya Rivera, who plays Santana; Darren Criss, who plays Blaine; and Amber Riley, who plays Mercedes.
Nick Cannon emceed the evening, but it was Mrs. Obama, sporting her new bangs and wearing a white peplum shirt over black pants, who got to introduce the top attraction.
"It is now my pleasure to introduce the fabulous Katy Perry!" she said, and the singer emerged in what looked like a vintage swimsuit, covered patriotically with stars and stripes. She sang her hits "Teenage Dream," "Part of Me," "Wide Awake" and then "Firework," which was accompanied by a slide show of President Barack Obama: Obama in the Oval Office, Obama exiting Air Force One, Obama greeting LeBron James.
"I'm very proud to be here ... and to see the Obamas and the Bidens here for four more years," she said.
Perry was the favorite of concertgoer Dylan Garvin, 12, who came from Wilmington, Del. "I thought it was incredible," Dylan said of the concert. "It's a great way to celebrate."