So the Presidential Inaugural Committee has unveiled the Inaugural talent line up and guess who's shaking her shimmy and belting out a few under Mister Emancipator himself… Beyonce. Now don't get me wrong, I think Beyonce is talented. She can sing and dance in a style that can only originate in the basement of a black church or the wings of a local talent show in Houston. And then there's the readings of historical passages where Jamie Foxx and Queen Latifah will do their best to bring nuance and conviction to the words of our ancestors. Needless to say, I'm disappointed. Not to say these celebs can't fulfill their gig requirements, but come on! I mean, who's on this Committee? A bunch of Kool Aid-drinking pop culture addicts who wouldn't know true talent variety if it stepped on their neck? Why didn't the Committee use this opportunity to elevate America's appreciation for artists of eclectic styles, of weightier nuance? I'm talking about Dianne Reeves or Lizz Wright. They could sing at Lincoln's feet and make his stone toes curl up and crack into dust. And as far as the dramatic readings… well, Jamie Foxx is decent, no doubt, and I hear Denzel Washington will bring his thespian know-how to the stage, but where's Phylicia Rashad, Danny Glover, Sonia Sanchez, Don Cheadle? Those folks could read between the pages and evoke enough depth and urgency from those words, every slave who ever lived would emerge from behind those pillars and scream Hallelujah! Hey, it's not all bad, Heather Headley and Stevie Wonder will perform and Martin Luther King III will grab the mic, I just wish the Committee used this opportunity to bring artist appreciation to the next level and not restage the Grammys or the MTV Music Awards.
Keith Josef Adkins is an award-winning playwright, screenwriter and social commentator.