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A Capitol Fourth

A Capitol Fourth

  • Premiered: 
    July 4, 1981
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: PBS
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Special, Annual
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Holiday
  • Tags: Independence Day/4th of July

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Plot Synopsis

Each year since 1981, PBS has broadcast the Independence Day celebration on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol, with fireworks, a live performance by the National Symphony Orchestra, and musical numbers by world-renowned guest musicians and singers. The celebration ends with a rousing rendition of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," complete with live cannon fire provided by the United States Army Presidential Salute Battery.
In 2020, PBS aired A CAPITOL FOURTH live on Saturday, July 4 from 8-9:30pm ET (live)/PT (tape), with John Stamos hosting for the fourth time and Vanessa Williams making her first appearance as host. The nation's 244th birthday celebration features 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 40-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.

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.

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 Renee 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; 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 will include 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.


Other Titles

  • Previously known as A Capitol Fourth with the National Symphony


  • - Washington D.C., Washington D.C. USA