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TNT is going to ring in the holidays in musical style with its annual presentation of the 11th annual presentation of Christmas in Washington, premiering Sunday, Dec. 20, at 8 p.m. (ET/PT). Mary J. Blige, Neil Diamond, Sugarland, Rob Thomas and Usher are scheduled to join host George Lopez in TNT’s spectacular holiday celebration.
“We take pride in presenting Christmas in Washington each year as we bring together musical artists from a variety of genres for a fantastic holiday concert,” said Michael Wright, executive vice president/head of programming for TNT, TBS and TCM. “This year, we’re especially thrilled to welcome a lineup of top-name performers and an equally amazing host, George Lopez. Together, they will make this a holiday celebration to remember.”
Annually attended by the President and First Lady and other Washington VIPs, Christmas in Washington is a holiday musical celebration benefiting the National Children’s Medical Center. The show was taped at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. Sunday, Dec. 13. This will be the 11th presentation of Christmas in Washington by TNT, which is in its 28th year overall.
Before the show started, four little girls dressed as elves helped the first couple place a gift for the Children’s National Medical Center under a Christmas tree. President Obama deemed the quartet – Avery, age 4, Anna, age 6, Abigail, age 4, and Reagan, age 7 – “Santa’s little helpers,” and introduced each, replacing their last name with “Elf.”
Though Anna Elf (on the left), seemed unimpressed, telling the President: “I’ve never seen you before!” He responded, laughing, “I’ve never seen you before.”
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The nation’s capital got in the holiday spirit Sunday night when music legends Neil Diamond and Mary J. Blige performed for President Barack Obama at the annual “Christmas in Washington” concert. The festivities, hosted by comedian George Lopez, took place at the National Building Museum and benefited the Children’s National Medical Center.
President Obama spoke of helping those in need during the holidays, as well as honoring those in the military:
“With our men and women in uniform serving far from home, in harm’s way, our fervent wish remains this season, and all seasons: Let there be peace on earth,” he said.
Diamond kicked off the concert by performing “Joy to the World” and “Winter Wonderland.” Blige wowed the crowd with “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).”
Two of the holiday songs were original numbers. Country group Sugarland performed “Gold and Green” and Rob Thomas sang “A New York Christmas.”
R&B singer Usher sang “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and Internet sensation Justin Bieber performed “Someday at Christmas.”
Near the end of the show, Lopez introduced President Obama and First Lady Michelle. The President thanked the performers and offered some holiday thoughts:
“This season we celebrate that sacred moment. The birth of a child, the message of the love we preach to the world. We are our brother’s keeper. We are our sister’s keeper. And pure in heart, we do unto others as we have them do unto us. We devote ourselves to good works. We are summoned to be peacemakers. More the 2,000 years later,that spirit still inspires us. That’s why this celebration tonight benefits Children’s National Medical Center and all the children whose lives they touch and they save.
“That’s why so many of our fellow citizens struggle during tough times. We are called upon to help neighbors in need. That’s why, with our men and women in uniform serving far from home, in harm’s way, our fervent wish remains this season, and all seasons to let there be peace on Earth. To all Americans, from our family to yours, Merry Christmas and God bless.”
After addressing the crowd, the Obamas stayed on stage with all the performers to sing carols, starting with “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing.” The president wiped a tear from his eye during the sing-along.
Meet the Performers
George Lopez is host of TBS’s new late-night series Lopez Tonight and one of the top five highest grossing comedians in the world. His groundbreaking sitcom, George Lopez, remains a hit in syndication and helped catapult Nick at Nite to one of the top 10 cable networks. His 2009 comedy special, George Lopez: Tall, Dark and Chicano, was the highest rated stand-up special on HBO in five years. This year, Lopez received the Teen Choice Award for Favorite Comedian. Lopez’s feature film career continues to thrive as well. Next year, Lopez has three films set for release: The Spy Next Door, Valentine’s Day and Marmaduke.
Mary J Blige is a nine-time Grammy-winning singer and songwriter with eight multi-platinum records and more than 40 million units sold since her 1992 debut of the modern classic What’s the 411. She has helped to redefine R&B and more importantly has been an artist that uses her gift of song to lift spirits and touch lives while bringing her heart, soul and truth to those who are willing to listen. She is loved for her passionate, chart-topping hits like “Be Without You,” “No More Drama” and “Family Affair,” all of which have made her a force in music. Blige’s new album, Stronger, is due for release on Dec. 22. As a multi-faceted mogul, Blige owns Matriarch Records, which produced the soundtrack for the heavily buzzed about film Precious – Based on the Novel Push By Sapphire, and co-owns Carol’s Daughter along with Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith and Jay-Z. Blige has worked her celebrity in the world of philanthropy.
Neil Diamond, whose most recent releases include A Cherry Cherry Christmas, Hot August Night NYC and the critically acclaimed #1 album Home Before Dark, has been a fixture in the music world for over four decades. This summer, CBS aired a primetime special featuring performances from his hugely popular Hot August Night NYC Live from Madison Square Garden DVD, which won the night in ratings. He has sold more than 125 million albums worldwide, with a remarkable track record of 16 Top 10 albums and 37 Top 10 singles. A Grammy-winning artist, Diamond has been inducted into the Songwriter’s Hall of Fame and is a recipient of the Sammy Cahn Lifetime Achievement Award. Among his many other honors, he has received a Golden Globe® and 12 Grammy nominations, and he was named the 2009 MusiCares Person of the Year. His many chart-topping songs include “Sweet Caroline,” “I Am…I Said,” “Song Sung Blue,” “Love on the Rocks” and “America.”
Sugarland, the country duo comprised of Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush, has sold more than 8 million records since exploding onto the music scene in 2004 with Twice the Speed of Life (“Baby Girl”/“Something More”). Enjoy the Ride (“Want To”/“Settlin’”/“Stay”) quickly followed in 2006, and their third studio album, Love On The Inside (“It Happens”/“Love”/“All I Want To Do”/“Already Gone”) in July 2008, which skyrocketed them to superstardom and drew fans from all genres and critics abroad. Sugarland is credited with co-writing all tracks from all three albums and co-producing the last two. In August 2009, the duo offered thanks to their loyal fans with Live On The Inside, a CD/DVD set of live tracks, covers and footage from their tour.
Rob Thomas is a Grammy-winning superstar who has sold more than 80 million albums and penned a remarkable string of #1 smashes, including “Her Diamonds” off his acclaimed new solo album, Cradlesong, as well as “Lonely No More,” “This Is How a Heart Breaks,” “Ever the Same,” “Streetcorner Symphony” and the Matchbox Twenty hits “Push,” “3AM,” “If You’re Gone,” “Bent,” “Disease” and “Unwell,” to name a few. In 1999, Thomas’ smash collaboration with Santana, the Thomas-penned “Smooth,” earned him three Grammys and today ranks #1 on Billboard’s Top Hot 100 Rock Songs chart and #2 on the magazine’s Hot 100 All-Time Top Songs. He has also worked with the likes of Willie Nelson, Mick Jagger, Marc Anthony and Bernie Taupin. In 2004, the Songwriters Hall of Fame presented Thomas with its first ever Starlight Award.
Usher, whose latest CD, Raymond v. Raymond, is due in stores Dec. 21, has achieved global superstardom as a singer, composer, producer, film and television actor, businessman and philanthropist. Since hitting the music scene in 1994, he has sold more than 40 millions albums worldwide and won countless awards and accolades, including five Grammys. His fifth album, Confessions in 2004, sold more than a million copies during its first week of release, the highest debut-week numbers ever for a male R&B artist. It went on to become the biggest selling album of the year and earned Usher three Grammys and numerous other accolades. “Yeah!,” “Burn” and “Confessions Part II” all topped the charts as Usher became the first solo artist in history to have three singles within Billboard’s Top 10 simultaneously.
An old soul is the last thing you would expect to find inside Justin Bieber. But all it takes is one listen to the 15 year-old soul-singing phenomenon to realize that he is light years ahead of his manufactured pop peers. After posting dozens of homemade videos on YouTube in 2007, where the multi-talented Bieber put his impeccable spin on songs from artists like Usher, Ne-Yo and Stevie Wonder, Justin racked up over 10,000,000 views purely from word of mouth.
“I started singing about three years ago,” says the Canadian native who grew up an only child in Stratford, Ontario. “I entered a local singing competition called Stratford Idol. The other people in the competition had been taking singing lessons and had vocal coaches. I wasn’t taking it too seriously at the time, I would just sing around the house. I was only 12 and I got second place.”