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A Missing Regular: D.C.'s Denyce Graves

(Devon Cass)

Scanning the long list of inaugural concerts, balls, prayer services and, oh yeah, the swearing-in, we keep getting the feeling something's missing. What is it? . . .

Denyce Graves! That's it!

The D.C.-born diva, the premier African American opera star of her generation, is the go-to voice for official state events, delivering the big soaring moments at Gerald Ford's funeral, the National Cathedral 9/11 memorial, even George W. Bush's 2005 inauguration. So is she involved this time?

"No, I'm not at all, and I would looooove to be," she told us. She said she's adored Barack Obama since hearing him speak in Chicago, pre-Senate. "I was mesmerized. I called my best girlfriend, who lives in Switzerland, and said, 'This man could be president some day.' "

But the calls aren't coming in? "No, they're not!" Graves sighed. "I think they've already chosen." For the swearing-in, yes: Aretha Franklin will do the honors. The loyal Dem said she wonders if her Bush inaugural gig knocked her out for this round: "I got so much hate mail. People were furious. For me it was about being an American, and the office itself. This one is personal. . . . I would love to be involved in any way, if not now, then sometime in the administration." Hint. Hint.

By The Reliable Source  |  January 9, 2009; 1:02 AM ET
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In a world of over-hype, Denyce Graves is a national treasure. I hope these inaugural committee folks realize they're missing something! We just saw her in Carmen at the Kennedy Center last November and she was breathtaking.

Posted by: matt29 | January 9, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

The idea that someone would take the time to write and send hate mail to a performer singing the national anthem is unbelievable. Ms. Graves is spectacular - a national treasure is the perfect description. Her voice gives me chills, and it too bad the inaugural planners didn't consider her.

Posted by: theo3 | January 9, 2009 10:20 AM | Report abuse

I was stunned to read this item yesterday. Has the left wing in this country gone so far overboard that they send hate mail to someone for performing at a Republican presidential inauguration? Simply astonishing! Thank you to Ms. Graves for understanding that there is a time to rise above politics and be the performer that you are. An inauguration is not a partisan event, like a campaign rally. It is a national event for all the people.

Judging from this incident as well as the early November ejection of three newspaper reporters from the campaign plane when their papers endorsed McCain, I am afraid that the incoming presidential administration may not be able to rise above petty politics. The new Blacklist consists of those in the entertainment world who have ever associated with a member of the political right.

Posted by: MrRamsey | January 10, 2009 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Denyce Graves is a D.C. and U.S. treasure. I would prefer to hear her sing than the fat has been Aretha Franklin. Aretha Franklin has played out and somebody lied to her by calling her a DIVA, because she's not. Aretha is allegedly fighting with Tina Turner about who's the Queen of Soul. Somebody please send Aretha to Jenny Craig.

Posted by: ricanndc | January 10, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Huh! Well, even more reason to stay home and hermit on the inauguration. I was at least going to watch in on TV. But, hey, if no Denyce Graves, forget it! Hearing her sing is one reason to put up with a crowd.

I was at the Pope's Mass at the National's ballpark in 2008 and Denyce Graves sang there, as did Placido Domingo. If it is a major event, if it is significant, if it is historic, if it involves any singing at all, and if it is in DC, then Denyce Graves just has to sing there. An event isn't an "event" in DC without Denyce Graves. She is one of the city's treasures.

No disrespect to Aretha Franklin, whom I think is a great entertainer, but Denyce Graves is DC's one and only diva. Maybe the folks from Chicago haven't figured this out yet, but now that the Post has pointed out a massive oversight for them, it is time for the inaugural planners to get on the horn and invite her!

Posted by: annie_sfo | January 12, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

I think it is absolutely ridiculous. While an Obama supporter, I am afraid that his talk about rising above and all of that is merely talk. Denyce Graves is what DC is all about. She is from here, she is a product of our schools, and she is WONDERFUL! How could they do this. The woman has sung for the Pope for crying and graced the stages of the world for crying out loud, get a clue. . . Terrible. . .

Posted by: DC_PHD | January 12, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Denyce Graves wasn't the only one disinvited. A local high school was told they wouldn't march because they marched 4 years (and 8 years ago and on and on) ... spread the opportunity, I guess?

Posted by: kathrynh01 | January 14, 2009 10:56 AM | Report abuse

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