ABC to Air 2-Hour Special, ‘Taking the Stage: African American Music and Stories That Changed America’



The Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture opened its doors with an all-star tribute that will air on ABC, under the title “Taking the Stage: African American Music and Stories That Changed America” – a two-hour program of music, dance and the spoken word – on Thursday, January 12 from 9-11pm EST.

ABC previously announced entertainers who would participate in the opening of the Smithsonian’s new National Museum of African American History and Culture, including Angela Bassett, Dave Chappelle, Chuck D., Doug E. Fresh, Savion Glover, Tom Hanks, Samuel L. Jackson, Quincy Jones, Rashida Jones, Elijah Kelley, Janelle Monae, Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith, Octavia Spencer, Chris Tucker, Jesse Williams, Oprah Winfrey, Stevie Wonder, Patti Austin, Christina Aguilera, Alvin Ailey dancers, Angela Bassett, Jon Batiste, Shirley Caesar, Chloe x Halle, Gary Clark Jr., Common, Cynthia Erivo, Fantasia, Jamie Foxx, Robert Glasper, Dave Grohl with Trouble Funk, Herbie Hancock, Gladys Knight, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin, NeYo and Usher.

World-renowned dignitaries, athletes and artists from around the globe will come together for the program at Washington’s John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Designed to explore and celebrate African American contributions to the global landscape, the program will feature new film footage of iconic items from the museum’s collections – items ranging from a plane used to train the famed Tuskegee airmen for World War II combat duty, to a bible owned by Nat Turner. The film is accompanied by music, dance and dramatic readings by a wide range of stage and screen actors. The executive producers were Don Mischer and Quincy Jones, along with Don Mischer Productions’ Charlie Haykel and Juliane Hare.

The production was filmed on September 23 and will air on ABC stations nationwide on Thursday, January 12. As of today, ABC has not said whether there’ll be any encore screenings of the special. Watch a preview below:


  1. Oh what a spectacular gathering and production. I intend to be totally attentive and receptive and sooo looking forward to enjoying every moment of this monumental event. Thanks to everyone involved and special kudos to President and First Lady Obama. Enjoy, as I’m sure everyone in attendance will do the same also. With many blessings from God to each and everyone involved in this magnificent event, and with much love to all. Thank you!

  2. I am tired already. I know I will be sitting on the edge my seat and lapping up all of the beautiful blackness. And I want it to be enough. I don’t want to care that the mainstream population has no knowledge of real Black culture and has no desire to learn.

    • well not me, I plan to watch, learn, be moved and enjoy…..I am mainstream and I wouldn’t have missed it. I also want a copy of the show. Especially appreciated the section with Common, Chuck D, and Doug E Fresh…..very moving to see their poetry of music…..

  3. This is absolutely amazing! I can’t imagine anyone not being drawn into this magical experience. I am ashamed at how little I knew about African-American history (and I consider myself pretty woke) and think this celebration is LOOOOONG overdue.

  4. What a perfect celebration of the departure of our President, the 1st Lady, and their daughter’s. It was an emotional moment when recognition was given to the Tuskegee airmen of WWII…to the performers…to the audience present, made it quite an evening. Even though I was a T.V. viewer, I felt lucky to be a part of this evening. There should be more programs, as beautifully orchestrated in this show, for all our cultures that makes America beautiful, and represents our flag that stands for freedom.

    • Agreed, the Tuskegee Airmen of WWII was beautiful and can not be done enough times to honor these Americans. This was definitely a highlight of the show and very emotionally charged for me .

  5. Thank you! I enjoyed this first class tribute and fabulous entertainment by everyone. Bravo to all!

  6. This tribute was amazing, it reminded me of how much we have contributed to music in America.

  7. Amazing. I was unaware that this would be coming on last night. I normally am bored with TV on Thursday nights in Savannah, but not this time, and no longer could I just sit there in my seat. On Usher and Ne-Yo, what can I say except OMG.

    • I am so sorry I missed this show. Will it be shown on TV again and if it will be, when?

  8. This was too great a show to be shown only once this year. This should’ve shown on Martin Luther King day, during Black history month and repeated as often as possible. Also, make the DVD of the show available as son as possible. It should be a permanent item for sale at the museum itself and proceeds from the sale should benefit some civil rights cause.

  9. When will this show air again? Lots of people missed it because I did not see it advertised? I would love to see this show. It was talked about and it was given rave reviews.

  10. Great show! Wonderful to see the musicians pay homage to African American musical genius. WHY IS IT BLACKED OUT EVERYWHERE?

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