Who’s Performing at the Capitol Fourth?

Aretha, Barry & Natasha hitting town

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Put away the yearly Fourth of July Old Navy T-shirt (or better yet, jump into your time machine and un-buy those tacky things) and find an uber-classy designer hat, because Aretha Franklin is coming back to town next month. Barry Manilow (remember him? No? Well, remember the polyester jokes?) will lead off a cast that also includes Natasha Bedingfield, the Tony award-winning cast of "Jersey Boys" and more at the annual A Capitol Fourth concert on (we have to say it) July Fourth.

Jimmy Smits will host the evening (you know, the good guy from "NYPD Blue" and "The West Wing") and PBS will make sure that everyone in America knows how patriotic you are by broadcasting the event livein high-def.

If want to make sure you can spell R-E-S-P-E-C-T before Aretha Franklin comes on, have no fear. Elmo, Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Oscar the Grouch and the whole gang of Sesame Street will be there to ensure you don't embarrass yourself. (Children first, please.)

If free music, educational puppets and good old-fashioned Americana don't do it for you, then we feel sorry for you... but it's OK, 'cause we know you'll stick around for the best fireworks show pretty much ever. Remember the scene from "The Sandlot"? Yeah ... better than that.

So there you are, you've officially been invited to the biggest birthday party in America. You wouldn't want to be the only person to not show up ... would you?

Confidential to Aretha: WEAR THE HAT AGAIN.

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