From Memphis, Tennessee, Clemons kicked off the song "Better Days," singing the hopeful tune from the iconic Stax Museum of American Soul Music. Timberlake then followed, crooning the lyrics with the full band behind them. The two then stepped outside and finished the song from the streets.
"Cause we're on our way to better/ Better's ahead, better's ahead/ It get's worse 'fore it gets better/ But better's ahead, better's ahead/ Better days are comin'" the two belted.
The singers also invited students and alumni of Stax Music Academy, music education and youth development program, to perform alongside them with a band led by Emmy nominated musical director Adam Blackstone who provided the live production and arrangement for the performance version of the song.
Nearly a week prior to him hitting the stage, Timberlake expressed excitement for being able to participate in Biden's big day.
"I got the phone call to be asked [to perform at the inauguration], and I was just like, 'Uh, yes!'" he told the Today show. "I’m very excited. There’s a song that I wrote with a new artist who was just nominated for a GRAMMY, Ant Clemons, and we wrote a song called 'Better Days.' We’re going to be performing it at the inauguration. So incredibly excited. What an honor."
Timberlake also posted about his gig on Instagram.
"A few months ago, during lockdown, @antclemons and I wrote a song together called BETTER DAYS. (I actually recorded my final vocals for this song on election night...)," Timberlake wrote alongside a compilation video of himself and Clemons making the song. "This past year brought a lot of frustration, grief, anger -- and there were times when it was easy to feel powerless. This song was our way of doing what little we could to encourage everyone to stay hopeful... and keep working towards a better, more equal future." ⠀ ⠀
"I’m very honored to announce we will be performing this song on January 20th for the Presidential Inauguration," he continued. "We have a long way to go to fix, undo, and rebuild this country... but I hope now, despite the past four years, we are on our way."
In addition to Timberlake and Clemons, a slew of other stars participated in the TV special. Tom Hanks hosted, while Tim McGraw, Florida Georgia Line's Tyler Hubbard, John Legend, Foo Fighters, Bruce Springsteen, Demi Lovato, and Jon Bon Jovi performed.
See more historic moments from the inauguration in the video below.