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Meet the Performers of 2021's A Capitol Fourth

Daniel Hautzinger
Fireworks over the U.S. Capitol.
Photo: Capitol Concerts

A Capitol Fourth airs Sunday, July 4 at 7:00 and 8:30 pm on WTTW and at

Even if the concert portion of the 41st annual Capitol Fourth celebration on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol is again pre-recorded this year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the special will end with a real-time bang, when live fireworks are set off over the nation's capital. Meet the stellar performers of this year's A Capitol Fourth

Vanessa Williams

Vanessa Williams. Photo: Rod SpicerPhoto: Rod Spicer

After gaining the public eye as winner of the Miss America competition, Williams expanded her career to music (her biggest hit is “Save the Best for Last”), theatre, film (she was in Soul Food), and TV (Ugly Betty and Desperate Housewives). Now she hosts A Capitol Fourth.

Jimmy Buffett

Jimmy BuffettPhoto: Capitol Concerts

You don't have to be a Parrot Head to know and love Jimmy Buffett and his classic, relaxed songs like "Margaritaville" and "Cheeseburger in Paradise," perfect for a summertime after a trying year. 

Gladys Knight

Gladys KnightPhoto: Capitol Concerts

You saw her perform in this year's National Memorial Day Concert; now she's back for the Fourth. The "Empress of Soul" has won seven Grammys and recorded numerous hits, such as "Midnight Train to Georgia" and "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" alongside her band the Pips, among much other music. 

Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson. Photo: Russ HarringtonPhoto: Russ Harrington

One of the best-selling music artists of all time, Jackson is a neotraditional country singer and songwriter who has nine records that have gone multiplatinum, two Grammys, and membership in the Grand Ole Opry and numerous halls of fame. Like Gladys Knight, he also performed in this year's National Memorial Day Concert.

Cynthia Erivo

Cynthia ErivoPhoto: Capitol Concerts

The young British actress and singer Erivo first made her name on stage, in The Color Purple, but she has also broken through on the big and small screen, notably starring in the Harriet Tubman biopic Tubman, a role for which she garnered Oscar nods. She's already won the other three big performing awards: Tony, Emmy, and Grammy.

Kermit the Frog

Kermit the FrogPhoto: Capitol Concerts

Typically, performers at A Capitol Fourth are human, but a special exception has to be made for the lovable green Muppet Kermit, who needs no introduction.


PentatonixPhoto: Capitol Concerts

The a cappella quintet won The Sing-Off and have been cherished for their pop and Christmas songs ever since, but A Capitol Fourth proves that Christmas isn't the only holiday they can celebrate.

Renée Fleming

Renée FlemingPhoto: Capitol Concerts

Fleming is well-known to Chicagoans from her long association with the Lyric Opera (read an interview with her by our sister station WFMT on the occasion of her 25th anniversary with the Lyric). The renowned opera star has also ventured onto Broadway and into popular genres.


TrainPhoto: Capitol Concerts

Train has been responsible for some of the most ubiquitous pop-rock songs of the last couple decades, from "Hey, Soul Sister" to "Drops of Jupiter" to "Calling All Angels."

Jennifer Nettles

Jennifer NettlesPhoto: Capitol Concerts

Nettles came to prominence as one-half of the country duo Sugarland, then cemented her voice on the radio as a featured vocalist on Bon Jovi's "Who Says You Can't Go Home." 

Mickey Guyton

Mickey GuytonPhoto: Capitol Concerts

Guyton is a young country artist who released her debut EP in 2015 but achieved widespread notice last year when she released her song "Black Like Me" during protests and a racial reckoning sparked by the murder of George Floyd. 

Jimmie Allen

Jimmie AllenPhoto: Capitol Concerts

Like Guyton, Allen is the rare high-charting Black country artist; like her, he is also early in his career but has begun to make great waves. 

Auli'i Cravalho

Auli'i CravalhoPhoto: Capitol Concerts

You may not recognize her face, but you're likely to know her voice: she voiced the title character of Disney's Moana as a young teenager, and has gone on to appear in the TV show Rise and the Netflix film All Together Now.

Christopher Jackson

Christopher JacksonPhoto: Capitol Concerts

Jackson played George Washington in Hamilton, has appeared in numerous TV shows, written music for both Sesame Street and, among others, and provided a singing voice for Moana.

Laura Osnes

Laura OsnesPhoto: Capitol Concerts

A Broadway star, Osnes has starred in Grease, South Pacific, Bandstand, Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella, for which she won a Drama Desk Award, and more. 

Ali Stroker

Ali StrokerPhoto: Capitol Concerts

A guest star on Glee, a star of Spring Awakening and Oklahoma!, for which she won a Tony, Stroker is also the first actress who uses a wheelchair for mobility to appear on a Broadway stage.

Jack Everly and the National Symphony Orchestra

The National Symphony OrchestraPhoto: Capitol Concerts

A mainstay of PBS's holiday concerts, pops conductor Jack Everly leads Washington D.C.'s National Symphony Orchestra to round out the night.