For the past 33 years, PBS has hosted an annual concert special – “A Capitol Fourth” – on Independence Day shot live from the west lawn of the Capitol building. The line-up of artists selected for the special spans genres and generations culminating in a show for all-ages and this year’s line-up is no exception.
This year’s show features timeless American stars like Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond, two American Idol winners including Scotty McCreery and the newly crowned Candice Glover, as well as Broadway’s Megan Hilty (of Smash), Darren Criss (Glee), and that’s just to name a few. With one of America’s favorite television hosts Tom Bergeron acting as emcee for the evening, PBS is on its way toward producing yet another memorable Fourth of July concert special on the National Mall.
On the third of July, the artists gather for one final run through before the official open dress rehearsal later that night. The day’s events also serve as an opportunity for those involved with the show to reflect on what being in DC for Independence Day means to them and what an honor it truly is to be involved with “A Capitol Fourth.”
To a seasoned performance veteran like Barry Manilow – who first played the show in 2009 – being in DC for Independence Day makes him believe in America. When asked about why DC is so special on the Fourth of July, he responded by asking a question in retort, “Do you guys live here?”
“Then you must know what I know now,” he said. “Living in DC, you know it all the time, you think about it all the time, how grateful you are to be here in America walking around the city. It’s just the most magnificent place ever.”
“I don’t live here,” he continued, “and when I get here it’s just the most emotional city ever, ever. I actually believe that this is where we all live. It’s just magnificent.”
Broadway and television star Megan Hilty also shared Manilow’s sentiments about being in DC on Independence Day, calling it the ultimate honor. This will be Hilty’s second “Capitol Fourth” performance with PBS and she’s glad to have gotten the overwhelming parts of the experience out of the way last year what with seeing the Capitol building staring straight back at her while performing.
“It’s my favorite holiday,” Hilty said, “because it’s something everyone can celebrate.”
“This is where it’s at to celebrate Independence Day,” she added, “There’s no better place to be.”
For American Idol’s Scotty McCreery and Candice Glover, this will be their first time performing as part of “A Capitol Fourth” and both agreed that this particular Fourth is likely to rank among their favorite Fourth of July memories in their respective lifetimes.
“It is amazing to be at the Capitol,” Glover said. “You know usually, Fourth of July you cookout and you do your fun stuff but I’m actually here at the Capitol singing in DC for all these people who have such great pride in their country.”
“It’s huge, you know, as a youngster and as just an American to be in our nation’s capital. It’s this place you want to be [for the Fourth of July],” McCreery said. “I grew up going to the lake two minute down the road from my house in the town and that was cool and all but to be here, it just means a whole lot more to me.”
A Capitol Fourth airs live on PBS tonight (July 4) from 8:00 to 9:30 p.m. ET If you find yourself down on the mall in search of a spot to watch fireworks and would like to see the show live in-person, then be sure to get to the Capitol’s West Lawn early to pass through security and get a seat. It’s quite the show!