Presidential inauguration features Decatur boy, nation’s first youth poet, Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez + Garth Brooks

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DECATUR – A sixth grader who sought to bring “happiness and hope” to health care workers by playing his trumpet outside Emory Decatur Hospital was featured as part of the historic Jan. 20 inauguration for President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris.

Jason Zgonc, a resident of  Decatur, Georgia, was selected out of many participants around the country to perform on Inauguration Day virtually. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, many inauguration activities were held virtually and Jason was featured during the parade segment where he performed  “God Bless America” at Emory Decatur Hospital with health care workers watching in the background, hospital officials said.

Taking the stage at the nation’s Capitol in Washington, D.C. was another young person: Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old African American, named the nation’s First Youth Poet Laureate at 19. Gorman delivered her original composition, “The Hill We Climb.”  The Los Angeles native  is an award-winning writer and cum laude graduate of Howard University.

Poet Amanda Gorman

There were also in-person performances by Lady Gaga, who sang the national anthem; Jennifer Lopez, who sang “This Land is Your Land and America The Beautiful,” after Vice President Harris was sworn in; and country legend singer Garth Brooks, who performed a stirring acapella rendition of “Amazing Grace, ” asking everyone to join him in singing a verse at the end of the song. Brooks’ performance followed Gaga and Lopez. Brooks, 48, also performed at President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.

Participating in the inauguration provided a unique and unforgettable opportunity for Jason Zgonc to share his message of hope with the world.  Jason has shared his talent playing the trumpet to thank hospital staff impacted by the pandemic since last summer. For 100 days, except during stormy or severe weather, the 12-year-old performed outside of the hospital. Jason began his tribute by playing “Over the Rainbow” and slowly added to his playlist with other movie theme songs and classical music.

Jason and his mother, Karen Zgonc, say his experience not only supported health care workers, but helped him improve as a young and aspiring musician.

“I made the decision to perform at Emory Decatur Hospital to bring happiness and hope to the health care workers who are working so hard because of the coronavirus,” Jason said.

Edna Brisco, assistant chief nursing officer for Emory Decatur Hospital, is among those who felt encouraged by the performances. “I love the quote that says ‘music is food for the soul,’” Brisco said. “Jason has fed our souls for over 100 days. He has inspired us, he brought smiles to our faces and he supported us throughout our shifts. We cannot thank him enough for being here for us.”

Jason is a member of the Georgia All-State Band and a semi-finalist in the National Trumpet Competition. Music runs in his family as his mother owns ZTunes Music in Atlanta and his father is a member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.

“We are so very proud of Jason’s commitment last year to bring a little bit of joy at the beginning or end of a long and intense shift for the health care workers at Emory Decatur Hospital,” said Karen Zgonc.

Click here to view a video of Jason performing at Emory Decatur Hospital.

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