Sure, I was pretty excited just to be in D.C. for MTV’s “Be the Change” Youth Ball yesterday. But in the back of my mind, I was also really hoping for the chance to meet Barack Obama. Well, that wasn’t going to happen (apparently the Secret Service is impervious to flirting, as I learned on Monday night when I batted my eyelashes to try to catch a glimpse of the future POTUS, who was attending an event at our production hotel).
For me, the icing ended up coming in the form of larger-than-life R&B diva Aretha Franklin, who made an appearance at the tail end of the MTV ball. It was around 1:30 a.m. when I heard my usually jaded colleagues and top MTV execs oohing and ahhing at the sight of the legend who, along with her enormous hat, had serenaded Obama and a crowd of about 2 million at his swearing-in ceremony earlier in the day.
And now here she was at our little party, in an elegant white feathered gown and with an entourage of about 20.
Unfortunately, Aretha didn’t stay long. Maybe it was the 18-year-olds dancing like maniacs or the fact that most other celebs (including fellow legend Cher) had already left, or maybe it was the way my colleagues and I surrounded her with our cameras like paparazzi, but the Queen of Soul graced us with her presence for all of five minutes.
We weren’t letting her get away that easily! Although we were leaving anyway (I swear, we were), my coworkers and I were drawn to her like magnets and followed her all the way to the elevators while singing “Sweet Caroline” to her. (Weird, I know, but I think this may have been due to a combo of alcohol and the excitement of the day). Aretha was the pied piper of the Youth Ball! One of my colleagues compared the experience to being high. Others were speechless. It was a moment that’s really hard to put into words (you kind of had to be there), but it’s one that was almost as cool as meeting the prez would have been. We love you, Aretha!
Watch “Be the Change: Live From the Inaugural” online now, and come back Thursday for the full performances from Kanye West, Kid Rock and Fall Out Boy. Stick with us for wall-to-wall coverage of the inauguration and of the scenes in Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Kenya.