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On sidelines or stage, celebrities out for Obama

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[January 21, 2009]  WASHINGTON (AP) -- Hollywood unbuttoned Washington's collar at President Barack Obama's inauguration events on Tuesday, bringing a touch of levity and star power to a historic day.

Beyonce crooned a classic to the new president, Wyclef Jean got a black-tie crowd to wave their tuxedo jackets in the air and Sheryl Crow sang her famous song celebrating change.

InsuranceCrow said at the Midwestern Ball that she couldn't remember the last time she played a gig in a dress and heels.

"I'm doing it for the new president. Just my way of serving my country," she said.

Marc Anthony and Jennifer Lopez shook off rumors of trouble in their relationship with a public display of affection at the Western Ball. For his last number, Anthony thrilled the crowd by inviting his wife to sing with him -- and got a kiss from her on the lips.

Beyonce sang Etta James' "At Last" at the first ball of the night as part of a star-studded lineup that aired on ABC with Jay-Z, will.i.am, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, Shakira, Sting, Faith Hill, Mary J. Blige, Stevie Wonder and Maroon 5.

At the Mid-Atlantic Ball, Jean got many of the 7,000 guests to swing their tux jackets in the air to show their support for Obama as part of a raucous 30-minute set. The crowd also grouped later to music from "The Dead" -- the band including members who used to perform with "The Grateful Dead."

Jon Bon Jovi performed at the Commander in Chief Ball for the military, playing an acoustic version of "Who Says You Can't Go Home?"

But it was the Obamas, following Kid Rock and Kanye West, who got the real rock-star reception at the Youth Inaugural Ball. They entered a hotel ballroom to deafening cheers from the mostly 20-something crowd.

Earlier in the day, plenty of the stars showed up for the swearing-in. Jay-Z was there with wife Beyonce. Smokey Robinson, Diddy and Denzel Washington made it, too. Bruce Springsteen was there with his wife, not far from Christopher Guest and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Boxing great Muhammad Ali had a seat on the platform, as did actor John Cusack and director Steven Spielberg. Leonardo DiCaprio whipped out his own camera, while Magic Johnson and actor Val Kilmer patiently posed for photographs with fans.

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Stevie Wonder went with his wife, fashion designer Kai Milla, who grew up in Washington.

"There was a connection from one stranger to another stranger at the swearing-in," Milla said. "There's a young energy in the air."

Elsewhere, stars stayed warm at private events like those held by the lobbying firm the BGR Group, which represents the Creative Coalition, an advocacy group for artists.

Among those attending were the actress Susan Sarandon and her director partner, Tim Robbins, and actress Anne Hathaway.

Will these stars stick around for the hard work Obama faces ahead? Crow joked that she had had a sit-down conversation with Obama about being a musician or secretary of state. She said she told him she'd stick with what she does best.

[Associated Press; By LISA TOLIN]

Associated Press writers Donna Cassata, Philip Elliott, Sam Hananel and Ann Sanner contributed to this report.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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