Let there be freedom, let there be fireworks ... and let there be music.
Television usually marks the United States' birthday in a big way, and this Independence Day is no different. Among the specials airing Sunday, July 4, are two that have become annual staples.
Tween superstar Justin Bieber will be in New York for NBC's telecast of "The Macy's 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular," while country music force Toby Keith goes a bit farther east to join the Keith Lockhart-conducted orchestra for "The Boston Pops Fireworks Spectacular" on CBS.
"I've been looking forward to this for the past couple of years," Canadian-born Bieber says of the NBC event that is likely to have him performing "Baby," his top hit to date. "A lot of my friends in the business have done it and told me it's a blast, so I'm really excited. It's a big deal for me."
Being backed by a full orchestra on the CBS telecast will be a big deal for Keith. "I've done that a couple of times," he reports. "The last was the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, in December. It's neat to hear your music played by a symphony.
"It's so big, and there's so much instrumentation going on," Keith adds. "Because of the other entertainment avenues there are today, many people wouldn't take the time to go to a symphony concert -- but if you go one time, you realize how great it is. It's such a team effort; it's just a beautiful thing to hear when it's done live."
At age 16, Bieber also knows about having musical appeal in different ways, with nominations in everything from the recent BET (Black Entertainment Television) Awards to next month's Teen Choice Awards. "Sure, it's incredible," he says. "It's just great that I get to do something I love and have people recognize it."
Bieber would be the last to deny he's had notable help along the way. Singer/songwriter/producer Usher has been instrumental in advancing the career of Bieber, who teamed with Ludacris on "Baby" and with Sean Kingston on "Eenie Meenie."
"I'm glad that they've supported me," Bieber says. "I get to look to them for advice. There aren't many people anymore who started as solo artists; a lot of them came from groups, but I've started off as just me. It's kind of crazy."