2020 A CAPITOL FOURTH OVERVIEW
This year, Capital Concerts broadcast the 40th anniversary presentation of A Capitol Fourth, the national July 4th TV tradition on PBS. This year’s show was co-hosted by two-time Emmy Award-nominated actor and producer John Stamos (Netflix’s You, Fuller House, ER) and multi-platinum recording artist and star of television, film and the Broadway stage Vanessa Williams. The nation’s 244th birthday celebration featured new performances from iconic locations across the country, including Washington, D.C, New York, Nashville, Los Angeles and Philadelphia, as well as highlights from the concert’s forty-year history and the stirring patriotic favorites viewers enjoy on the Fourth of July. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the traditional live A Capitol Fourth was not held on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol; instead, to ensure the health and safety of all involved, this year’s concert performances were pre-taped without a live audience, as was the case with the broadcast of the 2020 National Memorial Day Concert.
This special 90-minute presentation of A Capitol Fourth, available on television, radio and digital media, also featured a tribute to our nation’s workers on the front lines in the fight against the pandemic, a segment honoring the contributions of African American heroes from our nation’s past and present, and a salute to our wounded warriors and their families. The fireworks display over our nation’s iconic skyline was covered live during the broadcast, captured by multiple cameras stationed around the city.
“For four decades A Capitol Fourth has paid tribute to our nation’s birthday and the hopes and dreams of all Americans,” said Executive Producer Michael Colbert. “This year, our broadcast will reflect what we as a country have faced and the challenges ahead, while showcasing our message of inclusion, patriotism and love.”
The 40th anniversary edition of A Capitol Fourth featured performances by: Grammy Award-winning legend Patti LaBelle; Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer John Fogerty; world-renowned four-time Grammy Award-winning soprano superstar Renée Fleming; legendary Motown stars The Temptations celebrating their 60th anniversary; country music star and Grammy-nominated member of the Grand Ole Opry Trace Adkins; multi-platinum singer/songwriter Andy Grammer; five-time Grammy Award-winning Gospel vocalist extraordinaire Yolanda Adams; hard-rocking multi-platinum country music singer/songwriter Brantley Gilbert; platinum-selling country music star Lauren Alaina; Tony Award-winning Broadway star Brian Stokes Mitchell; Tony Award-winning Broadway star Kelli O’Hara and Broadway and television star Mandy Gonzalez (Hamilton, In the Heights); with members of the National Symphony Orchestra under the direction of top pops conductor Jack Everly. To mark the program’s 40th anniversary, the broadcast also featured highlights of iconic performances from previous concerts.
The program also included a special tribute by John Stamos to our first responders, the doctors, nurses and paramedics, grocery store workers and truck drivers, scientists and mail carriers, new American heroes putting their lives at risk now on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis. “These workers are committed to keeping us safe, keeping us fed, healing the sick and keeping the country going during this pandemic,” commented Stamos. “It’s important for all of us to take a moment in our show to thank them and honor them for their spirit and courage.” The segment honoring them included a musical performance of the Oscar-nominated song “I’m Standing with You” by SAG Award-winning and Emmy and Golden Globe-nominated actress Chrissy Metz (This Is Us, Breakthrough).
The 40th annual broadcast of A Capitol Fourth aired on PBS Saturday, July 4, 2020 from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. ET, as well as to our troops serving around the world on the American Forces Network. The program was also heard in stereo over NPR member stations nationwide. The concert was also streaming on Facebook, YouTube and www.pbs.org/a-capitol-fourth and was available as Video on Demand for a limited time only, July 4 to July 18, 2020.
The top-rated, award-winning program was capped off with fireworks and a rousing rendition of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture,” an audience favorite and A Capitol Fourth tradition.
Also participating in new and some selected past performances were members of the U.S. Army Band “Pershing’s Own,” the U.S. Army Herald Trumpets, the Joint Armed Forces Chorus, the U.S. Army Presidential Salute Battery, members of the Armed Forces carrying the state and territorial flags provided by the Military District of Washington, D.C., the Choral Arts Society of Washington and Patrick Lundy & The Ministers of Music.
The legendary Patti LaBelle performed “Somewhere over the Rainbow” on the 2020 A Capitol Fourth.
Aired July 4, 2020 on PBS.