Donald Trump had promised to bring showbiz pizzazz to the Republican convention, but it was instead the Democrats who put on a slick show of A-list entertainers in their bid to elect Hillary Clinton.
Shortly before Clinton’s high-stakes speech to accept the presidential nomination on Thursday, the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia brought out one of the biggest stars there is — Katy Perry.
The 31-year-old pop singer briefly gave the arena the aura of one of her shows, with delegates dancing with their illuminated phones in the air.
Clutching a microphone decked out in a sparkling US flag, Perry sang two songs that Clinton could easily take as anthems — her hit “Roar” and her latest single “Rise.”
Perry’s voice returned at the end of the convention as Clinton and her running mate Tim Kaine came out to her blockbuster song “Firework,” as real fireworks erupted from the stage at a packed Philadelphia sports arena.
Perry, noting that her own parents supported Trump’s Republican Party, urged young Americans to vote on November 8.
“You will have as much say as any billionaire. Or you can just cancel out your weird cousin’s vote if you like,” she said.
While many of the pop singer’s legions of fans are unlikely to have been watching the convention, Perry used a tool that she has mastered like few others — social media.
Perry, who has described herself as Clinton’s “number one fan,” shared her message over Twitter where she has more followers than anyone else in the world — 91 million, far more than the number of votes for President Barack Obama in 2012.
– Stars speak out –
Perry was not the only prominent musician to take the stage at the Democratic convention. Folk legend Paul Simon sang on the opening night, while Lenny Kravitz, Alicia Keys, Boyz II Men and Demi Lovato were among the performers.
Outside the arena, pop diva Lady Gaga and Snoop Dogg, the hip-hop great and marijuana enthusiast, also entertained delegates.
When a documentary-style biography appeared at the convention to introduce Clinton, the audience heard the immediately recognizable voice of Morgan Freeman.
Other Hollywood A-listers who offered their star power to help Clinton included Meryl Streep, who highlighted the former secretary of state’s historic role as the first woman nominee from a major party for the world’s most powerful job.
“What does it take to be the first female anything?” asked Streep, whose roles have included Margaret Thatcher. “It takes grit and it takes grace.”
Actress Eva Longoria took the podium to counter Trump’s attacks on Mexican Americans, noting that her family traces its heritage to the time that Texas was part of Mexico.
“My family never crossed a border; the border crossed us,” she said.
Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar similarly took Trump to task over his proposed ban on allowing foreign Muslims into the United States as he invoked the guarantees of religious freedom in America’s founding documents.
– Die-hards for Sanders, few for Trump –
Comedian Sarah Silverman had one of the most pointed lines among celebrities at the convention.
A former supporter of leftist challenger Bernie Sanders, she chastised the senator’s die-hard backers as “ridiculous” if they did not support Clinton in her showdown with Trump.
But several celebrity backers of Sanders remained unswayed by Clinton, notably actress Susan Sarandon, who said she was “disgusted” by bias against Sanders as revealed in leaked emails by Democratic National Committee members.
The celebrity showing was nevertheless in stark contrast to the Republican National Convention a week earlier in Cleveland.
Trump, who served as host of the television reality game show “Celebrity Apprentice,” had promised to bring showbiz glamour and surprises to the convention.
In the end, only a limited number of artists performed in or around the Republican convention including Lynyrd Skynyrd, best known for their 1974 song “Sweet Home Alabama,” and Kid Rock.
Another well-known artist booked on the sidelines of the Cleveland convention was Third Eye Blind — but the group instead used the platform to denounce Republicans on issues including gay rights.
Trump has faced protests from a long list of artists upset that he has played their songs at his rallies including The Rolling Stones, Adele, R.E.M., Neil Young and the estates of Luciano Pavarotti and George Harrison.