January 25, 2013 | « back

BERKSHIREEAGLE.COM – Inauguration Day: When President Obama called, James Taylor and family answered

When James Taylor performs “America the Beautiful” during President Obama’s public inauguration ceremony on Monday, it will reflect the close ties the singer-songwriter and his family developed with the first family during the 2008 and 2012 election campaigns.

Taylor and his wife, Kim, and their 11-year-old twin sons, Rufus and Henry, will travel from their home in the Berkshires hilltown of Washington to Washington, D.C., on Saturday morning for a three-day whirlwind weekend of inauguration activities.

The singer and his wife plan to attend a black-tie reception for family and friends of the Obamas at the White House on Monday evening. Earlier in the weekend, they’ll attend a reception hosted by Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, a co-chairman of the president’s re-election campaign, and his wife, Diane.

Taylor and his sons also have been invited to a special tour of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, their first visit to the popular attraction.

During Obama’s 2012 campaign, Taylor, accompanied by his wife as backup vocalist, spent more than a month performing at rallies and fundraisers in North Carolina, where the Boston native spent most of his childhood, as well as Detroit; Atlanta; Chicago; Miami; Dallas; San Francisco; Santa Barbara, Calif.; and Norwich, Vt. The Taylors wound up their campaign tour on Nov. 3, the final weekend before the election, at a rally in Nashua, N.H.

In an interview with The Eagle, Taylor said the invitation to sing at the inauguration came directly from the president.

“He mentioned it several times to us when we saw him earlier this fall at events in Washington,” said Taylor. “It’s quite a thrill.”

Taylor will perform after Vice President Joe Biden is sworn in and right before U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. administers the oath of office to Obama.

Two pop-music superstars also will perform during the nationally televised ceremony at the U.S. Capitol: Beyoncé Knowles, singing the national anthem, and Kelly Clarkson, singing “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”

“I know both Beyoncé and Kelly — not well — but I admire their music and them personally,” Taylor said.

As for the Taylor twins, said Kim Taylor, they are most excited about the Kids Inaugural Concert, organized and hosted by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. The event, held in honor of military families, includes singers Katy Perry, Alicia Keys, and Marc Anthony, along with the cast of “Glee” and Mindless Behavior, a boy band.

“It’s their first concert that’s not one of Dad’s, and they’re really keen to go,” Kim Taylor said. “They’re also hoping to meet Beyoncé and Kelly Clarkson.”

James Taylor said he is looking forward to the rehearsal Sunday at the Capitol.

“It will be great to be able to run through the song and know where exactly we’ll be,” he said.

Taylor was asked if he foresees progress on Obama’s second-term policy proposals despite ongoing partisan wrangling on Capitol Hill.

“I’ve gotten used to thinking we all want our government to cooperate, find consensus and move forward, but perhaps I’m wrong,” Taylor said. “It seems that half the Congress feels it is their job to paralyze government. And evidently, their constituents back home agree, or they wouldn’t keep electing them.”

He added, “One thing we should agree on: We should raise enough taxes to pay our commitments. One of the great divides of Red/Blue partisan politics is over the issue of government spending. Republicans might prefer to limit it to defense, police and highways, while Democrats are perhaps more interested in health, education and welfare.”

Interviewed at home during a break in October, Taylor said: “Kim and I love this president and feel it’s really important that he continue for another four years with the vision he has for the country.”

Obama awarded Taylor the National Medal of Arts at the White House in 2011.

Clarence Fanto, Special to The Eagle