Taking the Stage: African American Music and Stories That Changed America is sure to be one of the entertainment highlights leading up to MLK Day. The two-hour program hosted by Tom Hanks airs tonight, January 12, on ABC at 9.pm. EST and features a who's-who in entertainment list of performers and presenters.
The program which was attended by President Obama and the First Lady, will feature a variety of musical performances including hip-hop, pop, rock and r&b. Iconic African American musicians from Stevie Wonder to Usher were present for the taping of the special last September that marked the opening of the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.
ABC's official synopsis of the program reads:
World-renowned dignitaries, athletes and artists from around the globe will come together for the program at Washington's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Designed to explore and celebrate African American contributions to the global landscape, the program will feature new film footage of iconic items from the museum's collections – items ranging from a plane used to train the famed Tuskegee airmen for World War II combat duty to a bible owned by Nat Turner. The film is accompanied by music, dance and dramatic readings by a wide range of stage and screen actors.
If picking a white dude like Tom Hanks to host a TV special celebrating African American culture seems like an out of left field choice, you're not alone. The pick also had the actor, asking ‘Why me? Are you sure you want me there?'” Hanks told ABC about the special. “I’m here by invitation. I’m honored and thrilled to accept it.”
The full list of performers and presenters will include:
Doug E. Fresh
Samuel L. Jackson
Jada Pinkett Smith
Alvin Ailey Dancers
Chloe x Halle
Gary Clark Jr.
Dave Grohl with Trouble Funk
Mary J. Blige
Time: 9 p.m. EST
(And no you didn't just scroll down too fast, Beyonce is not on the list.)