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Alicia Keys, Brad Paisley rock out at Inaugural Ball

7:01 AM, Jan 22, 2013   |    comments
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U.S. President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama dance as singer Jennifer Hudson performs 'Let's Stay Together' during the Inaugural Ball at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center on January 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. President Obama was sworn in for his second term earlier in the day. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Cindy Clark, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON -- From Alicia Keys to FUN to Brad Paisley, an eclectic mix of musical performers kept partygoers entertained at The Inaugural Ball inside the Washington Convention Center.

While many were there to see President Obama dance with the first lady, the star-studded lineup added an extra dose of glamour.

The performers were there to entertain more than 35,000 guests made up of grassroots volunteers, local community leaders and supporters, various organization representatives and local and state elected leaders. The cavernous room was packed, and while there was little room for dancing, there was certainly lots to see on the two large stages.

Keys was up first. "Today is an incredible day and you can feel the energy everywhere you go," said the singer, perched behind a piano. "Every day is a chance to do our best, to serve our highest purpose." She was glittering in a sparkly red dress by Michael Kors.

"Help me celebrate this momentous day," she said before singing her hit Girl on Fire, changing the lyrics to ""He's president and he's on fire. ... Obama's on fire."

After her rousing opening number, the Mexican band Maná performed, singing a set of songs including Carlos Santana's

Córazon Espinado.

Following Maná's performance, country music star Brad Paisley stirred up the crowd with his song, American Saturday Night. "This reminds me of when I was president of the 4-H club," joked Paisley of the abundant energy in the room. "It's kind of the same." On a more serious note, he remarked on how it was "such an honor to be here."

He added, "Our democracy is the envy of the world, and tonight we celebrate by getting drunk in a convention center."

After Paisley, the musical act FUN performed pop hits Some Nights and We Are Young.

The crowd roared with applause, which got only louder once they realized what was up next.

Close to 9:20, the President and first lady Michelle Obama made their grand entrance. They danced to Jennifer Hudson singing Let's Stay Together, the Al Green classic. And just like that, it was over. No speech, no remarks -- just wide smiles and a wave. By 9:30, the Obamas waved to their supporters and left. It undoubtedly had been a long day

But the fun didn't stop there. Stevie Wonder performed a string of his classic hits, and led the crowd in a sing-a-long to Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

And then, another surprise: Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden wanted to their dance on, too. With Jamie Foxx singing and playing the piano, the couple swayed to I Can't Stop Loving You. If there ever was a night when Keys, Foxx and Wonder came third, tonight was the night.

Once the Bidens left the building, many others followed suit. But even as the crowds began to pour out, there were still many packed in the center watching John Legend croon away.

Attending an inaugural ball is quite an experience, especially for first-timers. "I had no idea what to expect," said Catherine Pearson, 24, from Washington. "It was such a whirlwind." She said that a highlight of the night was "definitely seeing the president and Mrs. Obama dance, and Stevie Wonder. You can't beat Stevie Wonder."

Bridget McCabe also cited the President and first lady's dance as the best part of the night. "I really had no expectations, I had no idea what I was getting in to," said McCabe, 24, from Glenmoore, Penn. "It's a lot of people, especially in the crowd. This room is huge."

Talk also centered around Mrs. Obama's dress, a ruby red number by Jason Wu -- the same designer she chose to wear at the balls four years ago. "She got rave reviews for wearing him the first time, and I think she looked stunning tonight," said Pearson. The back was beautiful...she looked ravishing in red."

USA TODAY

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