As President Barack Obama is sworn into office Monday, hundreds of members of the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir will take center stage for a few minutes of the historic occasion. Borough reporter Jeanine Ramirez filed the following report.
The sound, the talent and the diversity of Brooklyn will all be on display Monday, as the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir takes center stage at the presidential inauguration.
"The time is here. The weekend is upon us. A lot of preparation has gone into it and we are just ecstatic," said choir member Kevin Lewis.
Their song, "Battle Hymn Of The Republic," was chosen by inauguration organizers. It's a song the six-time Grammy Award-winning choir has done before, but for this momentous occasion, they made some changes.
"What we wanted to do is bring a new voice to it, and what we ended up achieving was an arrangement that encompassed all the sides of the majesty of God," said Jason Michael Webb, the choir's assistant music director.
The 280-member chorus was invited to perform, even before the election was held. So they would have been on the program even if Mitt Romney had won, rather than Obama. They were picked by Senator Charles Schumer, who is chairman of the inauguration committee, and — no coincidence — a fellow Brooklynite.
"The person who has the most time at the inauguration is the president. He has about 15 minutes for his speech. I have the third most time, I have three minutes," Schumer said. "Guess who has the second most time? You."
Four minutes is their slot, as they deliver not only a powerful song to a worldwide audience, but also a message.
"It's great that we can take and represent as a multiracial, multicultural choir, to be able to go to Washington and stand there before the nation and before the world and show people look, it can work," said choir member Esther Colon. "People from all nations, all races, we can come together and we can be unified."
Church members said they will be united around television sets on Monday to watch their beloved choir command the crowd and wow the commander-in-chief.