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Goodbye, Yellow Brick Road. Hello, White House. Biden invites Elton John to perform

Elton John attends the photocall for the movie "Rocketman" during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 16, 2019 in Cannes, France.
Pascal Le Segretain
/
Getty Images
Elton John attends the photocall for the movie "Rocketman" during the 72nd annual Cannes Film Festival on May 16, 2019 in Cannes, France.

President Joe Biden will host musician Elton John for a performance on the South Lawn of the White House Friday for an event called "A Night When Hope and History Rhyme."

The president and first lady Jill Biden will also offer remarks.

John, billed by the administration as a "music legend and global humanitarian," will perform in celebration of the "healing and unifying power of music," the White House said in a statement.

The administration has also invited a group of people they have termed "everyday history-makers": teachers, nurses, mental health advocates and other front-line workers.

Elton John said no to Trump's inauguration

John, a British citizen, previously performed at a White House state dinner during the Clinton administration — but declined an invitation to perform at Trump's 2017 inauguration and Friday's performance could come as a thumb in the eye for the former president.

"I have given it at lot of thought, and as a British National I don't feel that it's appropriate for me to play at the inauguration of an American President," John told Trump's inaugural team in an email, according to the New York Times. "Please accept my apologies."

View this post on Instagram A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump)

John had previously performed at one of Trump's wedding ceremonies and his music is a fixture at Trump's rallies.

Memorably, the singer's 1971 multi-platinum hit "Tiny Dancer" boomed behind Trump as he learned that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had died.

The title for Friday's event, "A Night When Hope and History Rhyme," is drawn from Seamus Heaney's poem "The Cure of Troy." It's often quoted by Biden, including when he accepted the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eric McDaniel
Eric McDaniel edits the NPR Politics Podcast. He joined the program ahead of its 2019 relaunch as a daily podcast.