Great Performances | Star Spangled Spectacular: The Bicentennial of our National Anthem
Preview John Lithgow hosts a live, two-hour show with Grammy-, Emmy- and Tony-winning performers.
Watch Saturday, September 13, 2014 at 8pm on WMHT TV.
Acclaimed actor, musician and author John Lithgow will host Star-Spangled Spectacular: Bicentennial of our National Anthem live from Pier Six Pavilion in Baltimore.
The television event, to be co-hosted by multi-platinum recording artist and actress Jordin Sparks, is a highlight of Star-Spangled Spectacular, a weeklong celebration of the 200th anniversary of our national anthem.
Also featured are performances by Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress and accomplished singer Kristin Chenoweth; Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge; celebrated mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves-Montgomery; Grammy Award-winning country group Little Big Town; vocal sensations Pentatonix; legendary singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson; Grammy Award-winning Country Music Hall of Fame member Kenny Rogers; multi-platinum Grammy Award-winning band Train; the Grammy Award-winning Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Music Director Marin Alsop; and more to be announced soon. The patriotic special will feature a diverse star-studded line up of entertainers paying tribute to our nation’s ideals in a thrilling and inspiring concert at the Pier Six Pavilion. The Baltimore harbor, replete with tall ships and naval vessels will serve as a stunning backdrop. The program will also include ceremonial activities at Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, historical highlights and an extraordinary fireworks crescendo.
Two hundred years ago, Francis Scott Key, a Maryland-born attorney, was inspired to write the words to what would become the United States’ national anthem. In 2012, Star-Spangled 200 and the Maryland War of 1812 Bicentennial Commission began a multi-year commemoration of this legacy which will culminate with Star-Spangled Spectacular, a weeklong festival taking place on September 10–16, 2014. Within this festival, Star-Spangled Spectacular: Bicentennial of our National Anthem will take place. The festival will include tall ships, Navy gray hulls, a performance by the Blue Angels, landside festivities, and this special television program to honor the national anthem.
John Lithgow is an American actor, musician, and author. In 1973, he won a Tony Award three weeks after his Broadway debut, in David Storey’s “The Changing Room.” Since then he has appeared on Broadway twenty more times, earning five more Tony nominations, another Tony, four Drama Desk Awards, and induction into the Theatre Hall of Fame. In the early 1980’s Lithgow began to make a major mark in films. At that time, he was nominated for Oscars in back-to-back years, for “The World According to Garp” and “Terms of Endearment.” In the years before and after, he has appeared in over forty films. Upcoming releases include Tommy Lee Jones’ “The Homesman,” Christopher Nolan’s “Interstellar” and Ira Sachs’ “Love is Strange” alongside Alfred Molina. For his work on television, Lithgow has been nominated for eleven Emmy Awards. He has won five of them, one for an episode of “Amazing Stories,” and three for his portrayal of the alien High Commander, Dick Solomon on the NBC comedy series “3rd Rock from the Sun.” He has also been honored with two Golden Globe Awards, two SAG Awards, The American Comedy Award and has received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Lithgow is also celebrated for his work for children which includes acclaimed books, concerts, and albums. Since 1998 he has written nine New York Times best-selling children’s picture books, including the recently published “Never Play Music Right Next To The Zoo.”
Emmy and Tony Award winner and Oklahoma and Hollywood Bowl Hall of Fame inductee, Kristin Chenoweth effortlessly transitions between stage, television, film and an accomplished singing career. She received an Emmy Award for her role in “Pushing Daises,” a Tony Award for her role in “You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown” and was also nominated for originating the role of Glinda the Good Witch in “Wicked.” Chenoweth most recently co-starred in the animated film “Rio 2” and performed to sold-out audiences at the famed Carnegie Hall and Royal Albert Hall. She’s also completed production on the Universal film “The Boy Next Door,” “Opposite Sex,” “Hard Sell” and the Disney Channel’s live-action original movie “Descendents.” Chenoweth continues to tour and will return to Broadway in the Roundabout Theatre Company’s “On the Twentieth Century” in early 2015. Additional TV credits include: “The West Wing,” “Glee,” “G.C.B” and “The Good Wife.”
Melissa Etheridge is one of rock music’s great female icons. Her critically-acclaimed eponymous debut album was certified double-platinum. Etheridge’s popularity built around such memorable songs as “Bring Me Some Water,” “No Souvenirs” and “Ain't It Heavy” for which she won her first Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal. Etheridge hit her commercial and artistic stride with her fourth album, Yes I Am featuring the massive hits “I’m the Only One” and “Come to My Window,” a searing song of longing that brought her a second Grammy. The six times platinum album spent more than two and a half years on the album chart. Etheridge is also an Oscar winner for Best Original Song in 2007. In 2011 Melissa made her Broadway debut as St. Jimmy in Green Day’s rock opera, American Idiot, where she replaced Billie Joe Armstrong for one week, and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her most recent album, This Is ME is being released on September 30, 2014.
Recognized worldwide as one of today's most exciting vocal stars, Denyce Graves-Montgomery continues to gather unparalleled popular and critical acclaim in performances on four continents. USA Today identifies her as "an operatic superstar of the 21st Century," and the AtlantaJournal-Constitution exclaims, "if the human voice has the power to move you, you will be touched by Denyce Graves." Her career has taken her to the world's great opera houses and concert halls. The combination of her expressive, rich vocalism, elegant stage presence, and exciting theatrical abilities allows her to pursue a wide breadth of operatic portrayals and to delight audiences in concert and recital appearances. Denyce Graves-Montgomery has become particularly well known to operatic audiences for her portrayals of the title roles in Carmen and Samson et Dalila. These signature roles have brought the artist to the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, Royal Opera, Covent Garden, San Francisco Opera, Opéra National de Paris, Lyric Opera of Chicago, The Washington Opera, Bayerische Staatsoper, Arena di Verona, Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opernhaus Zürich, Teatro Real in Madrid, Houston Grand Opera, Dallas Opera, Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires, Los Angeles Opera, and the Festival Maggio Musicale in Florence. Ms. Graves-Montgomery appears continually on the stages of leading theaters in North America, Europe, and Asia. Highlights have included a Robert Lepage production of The Rake’s Progress at San Francisco Opera, the title role in Richard Danielpour’s Margaret Garner in the world premiere performances at Michigan Opera Theater with further performances at Cincinnati Opera, Opera Carolina, and the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the role of Charlotte in Werther for Michigan Opera Theater opposite Andrea Bocelli in his first staged operatic performances, and the role of Judith in a William Friedkin production of Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle in her return to Los Angeles Opera; she also has sung Judith at the Washington National Opera and for the Dallas Opera. Recent appearances include the world premieres of Doubt at Minnesota Opera and Champion at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis as well as the role debuts of Katisha in The Mikado for Lyric Opera of Kansas City and Herodias in Salome for Palm Beach Opera.
Grammy Award-winning Country group, Little Big Town – consisting of members Karen Fairchild, Phillip Sweet, Kimberly Schlapman, and Jimi Westbrook – first entered the music scene more than 15 years ago with hits such as “Boondocks,” “Bring It On Home,” “Good As Gone” and Grammy-nominated single “Little White Church. The quartet’s fifth studio album Tornado was released on September 11, 2012 and debuted at the top of the Billboard Country Chart where it stayed for five consecutive weeks. The album has been certified Platinum with sales of more than 1 million copies and features #1 hits "Pontoon" and "Tornado." Little Big Town recently completed their sixth studio album working again with producer Jay Joyce. The first single off of the new album entitled “Day Drinking” is quickly climbing the Country radio charts. The album, entitled Pain Killer, is set for release on October 21st.
Vocal sensations Pentatonix are taking instrument-free music far beyond anyone’s wildest expectations. Named after the world’s most widely recognized five-note music scale, this quintet has transformed one of pop music’s purest and most soulful expressions into an exciting future, filled with limitless sonic possibility. From their original tracks to their intricate reimagining of pop hits and epically complex arrangements and medleys, Pentatonix have quickly developed a sound and style that is entirely unique and undeniably infectious. Pentatonix have ignited one of the biggest online and global followings. The PTXofficial YouTube channel boasts over 500 million views, buoyed by more than 5.9 Million subscribers, and is one of the Top 100 most subscribed-to music channels.
Grammy legend, country superstar and contemporary music icon, Kenny Rogers, is an enduring artist whose distinctive voice and gift for storytelling is known the world over. Rogers is the RIAA's 8th Best Selling Male Artist of All Time and has sold over 120 million albums worldwide. He has recorded 24 No. 1 hits, including classics such as "The Gambler," "Lady," and "Islands In The Stream" (with Dolly Parton) and 12 No. 1 albums. A 2013 inductee of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Rogers was awarded the Country Music Association's Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. His new album, YOU CAN'T MAKE OLD FRIENDS, garnered a Grammy Award nomination for the title track duet with Dolly Parton. Rogers remains a master showman, performing all over the world.
Once pronounced by Bob Dylan as America's "greatest living poet," acclaimed singer-songwriter Smokey Robinson's career spans over four decades of hits. He has received numerous awards including two Grammy's, the Grammy Living Legend Award, NARAS Lifetime Achievement Award, Honorary Doctorate (Howard University), Kennedy Center Honors and the National Medal of Arts Award from the President of the United States. He has also been inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters' Hall of Fame. Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Robinson founded The Miracles while still in high school. The group was Berry Gordy's first vocal group. Their single of Robinson's "Shop Around" became Motown's first #1 hit on the R&B singles chart. The Miracles dominated the R&B scene throughout the 1960's and early 70's. In addition to writing hits for The Miracles, Robinson wrote and produced hits for other Motown greats including The Temptations, Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway, Marvin Gaye and of course The Beatles. During the course of his 50 plus year career in music, Robinson has accumulated more than 4,000 songs to his credit and continues to thrill sold-out audiences around the world with his high tenor voice, impeccable timing, and profound sense of lyric. On August 19th, Verve Records will release “Smokey & Friends” – a duets album consisting of Smokey revisiting the best loved songs from his unmatched catalog of hits with a celebrated roster of contemporary artists, including Elton John, Steven Tyler, Mary J. Blige, John Legend, and more. To learn more about “Smokey & Friends,” and to pre-order, visit www.smokeyrobinson.com.
Jordin Sparks is a Grammy nominated mutli-platinum singer/songwriter and actress who originally garnered worldwide attention as winner of season six of American Idol (the show’s highest rated season), Jordin Sparks was just seventeen years old when she won the coveted title. She has since won two BET Awards, one American Music Award, one People’s Choice Award and has been nominated for two MTV Awards and one Grammy. Sparks is also an accomplished actress and has starred on Broadway in the smash musical “In The Heights,” as well as held the lead role in the SONY Pictures film SPARKLE, alongside the late Whitney Houston. Her latest film, Left Behind, starring Nicholas Cage, is set to be released October 3, 2014.
Audiences have come to expect a melodic and visceral tour de force from Train, with the band possessing one of the more potent, radio-embedded repertoires. The acclaimed group has sold more than ten million albums worldwide, thirty million tracks worldwide, with numerous platinum/gold citations on their mantle, 3 Grammy Awards, 2 Billboard Music Awards and dozens of other honors and nominations. Their gift for delivering memorable songs with an edgy refinement has seen them achieve unprecedented radio and social media traction, with the eight-time Grammy nominees heralded as a standard bearer of riveting, roots-based pop around the world. Their most recent album, 2012’s California 37 spawned the hit “Drive By,” among other songs, a multi-platinum single that reached the Top Ten in 13 countries, adding to the prolific Train set-list which already includes multiple signature smashes such as their Grammy winning classic “Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me),” the chart-topping “Meet Virginia,” and “Calling All Angels.” The band snagged another Grammy in 2011 for their global smash “Hey Soul Sister,” (the #1 hit and biggest selling single of 2010) from their 2009 multi-platinum album, Save Me, San Francisco. In 2011, Train launched the Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co. and Save Me, San Francisco Chocolate Co, which benefit Family House, a Bay Area nonprofit providing temporary housing to the families of seriously ill children being treated at University of California San Francisco Benioff Children's Hospital. Their current single, “Angle In Blue Jeans” is Top 10 at Hot AC and their new album Bulletproof Picasso will be released on September 16th.
The Grammy Award-winning Baltimore Symphony Orchestra(BSO) is internationally recognized as having achieved a preeminent place among the world's most important orchestras. Acclaimed for its enduring pursuit of artistic excellence, the BSO has attracted a devoted national and international following while maintaining deep bonds throughout Maryland with innovative education and community outreach initiatives. The BSO made musical history in September 2007, when Maestra Marin Alsop led her inaugural concerts as the Orchestra’s 12th music director, making her the first woman to head a major American orchestra. With her highly praised artistic vision, her dynamic musicianship and her commitment to accessibility in classical music, Maestra Alsop’s leadership has ushered in a new era for the BSO and its audiences.