Obamas, Performers Hold "Christmas In Washington"

President Obama and his family stand with performers Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson (left), Christina Perri (2nd left), Rita Ora (3rd right), Hunter Hayes (2nd right) and members of the musical group Earth, Wind and Fire. (Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)

This year, TNT’s “Christmas in Washington” had a little of everything: Famous singers who were crooning carols. Speeches about appreciating the spirit of the season. And President Obama coming face to face with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the hulking actor who has parodied him on “Saturday Night Live.”

“You can see the resemblance,” Obama noted of Johnson, the event’s host, during the show’s taping Sunday night at the National Building Museum. “I have a little more hair.”

The feel-good musical special, which is traditionally attended by the first family and benefits the Children’s National Health System, used to rely on comedian hosts to keep the crowd entertained between acts. To his credit, Johnson, who has a few film comedies to his name — and who also hosts TNT’s “The Hero” and “Wake Up Call” — got in a few one-liners. He even warbled a few lines of his own version of “Deck the Halls.” (Sample line: “I know what you all are thinking / No, The Rock has not been drinking.”)

But the real show belonged to the celebrity musical guests. The lineup is always a mix of genres and styles, and this year’s bill included Earth, Wind & Fire; country star (and former Hootie and the Blowfish frontman) Darius Rucker; pop singer Christina Perri; Nashville star Hunter Hayes; British songstress Rita Ora; and soul singer Aloe Blacc.

Johnson noted that knowing the music of Blacc — whose popularity has skyrocketed lately thanks to songs such as “Wake Me Up” and “The Man” — was a “coolness” barometer. If you didn’t know him, Johnson said, “you probably think Aloe Blacc is an exotic skin lotion.”

The many young children in attendance and their parents might not have known Blacc’s biggest hits, but they knew “The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire),” which Blacc expertly sang. Other crowd-pleasers included Perri’s soaring “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and Rucker’s “Please Come Home for Christmas.” Hayes put an electric guitar on “Run Rudolph Run,” and Ora was accompanied by the Washington Youth Choir during a rendition of “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”

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SOURCE: The Washington Post
Emily Yahr

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