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Obama Team Announces Inauguration CD and Concert Featuring Jennifer Hudson, Usher and More

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For months the news media and record industry insiders have been hearing whispers about an inauguration CD being secretly compiled for President-elect Barack Obama's special day.

This morning, the White House Presidential Inauguration Committee confirmed to ESSENCE.com that the rumors are indeed true. Produced by Hidden Beach Entertainment, the soundtrack entitled "Change Is Now: Renewing America's Promise" is expected to be a one-of-a-kind collector's item.

"The ‘Change Is Now' commemorative CD/DVD is another example of how this inauguration truly celebrates and evokes the common values, diversity and rich talent of our great nation," said Obama spokesperson Kevin Lewis.

The CD/DVD will include 18 performances by various artists such as Stevie Wonder, India.Arie, Usher, Robin Thicke, BeBe Winans, Lionel Ritchie and Sheryl Crowe. The DVD track list includes eight of Obama's speeches, including his announcement for president, his Iowa caucus victory speech and his Election Night victory speech. Ever the entrepreneurs, the Obama team made it possible for you to pick up a copy at the official inauguration memorabilia store in downtown Washington, D.C., which opened last Saturday, or buy it online at http://pic2009.inauguralcollectibles.com/optimizer/product/J0925.html for $30.

India.Arie, one of the featured Motown artists (Stevie Wonder is the other), contributed the song "There's Hope" from her 2006 album "Testimony: Vol 1 Life & Relationship." The song was used during the Obama campaign. "When I write songs, I literally pray that each song finds its place in the world," said the Atlanta resident. "I feel the song is a perfect match for this moment in time and a perfect match for this compilation."

Executives in the industry echo India.Arie's sentiments about the significance of music and its role in commemorating Barack Obama's historical victory.  "Music has always been a way to take you back into time. You can remember certain things about your childhood. So to me, given the magnitude of this
inauguration,'' said Shanti Das, executive vice-president of Urban
Marketing, Universal Motown. "It is only fitting that we celebrate Obama's
presidency through music. Music touches the soul and has always taken you
back through time. We can sit back and remember where we were when our first African-American president was sworn into office and we can do that through music.''

The highlight of the 18-track CD will likely be a special performance of "The Star Spangled Banner" by Jennifer Hudson. The Oscar winner has stayed out of the spotlight ever since the tragic murders of her mother, nephew and brother back in October 2008. The Obama transition team is still mum about who will actually sing the "The Star Spangled Banner" live during the inauguration.

While Obama's team hopes this will be a collector's item, the question is, will it?

We'll just have to wait to see how well the CD will sell, but music will definitely be a huge part of the inauguration festivities. If you're not one of the millions of people planning to travel to Washington, D.C., to see the events in person, you might want to tune in to HBO this Sunday for "We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration At The Lincoln Memorial."

The opening celebration will include performances by Beyoncé, Mary J. Blige, Herbie Hancock, Heather Headley, John Legend, Shakira, and will.i.am among others. If that isn't enough star power, historical passages will be read throughout the performances by Jamie Foxx, Martin Luther King III, Queen Latifah and Denzel Washington.

"This is a great opportunity to capture a historic event in a very meaningful setting," said opening ceremonies producer and director Don Mischer. "We will have the statue of Abraham Lincoln looking down on our stage and a crowd of hundreds of thousands of people lining the Mall—a tableau any director would relish."

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