‘Idol’ winner joins Adkins, Beach Boys for Memorial Day Concert

May 20, 2024 | (Jason Fraley)

WASHINGTON — He’ll go down in music and television history as the 15th and final champion of “American Idol,” having won the show’s farewell season.

Now, Trent Harmon comes to the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol to sing the national anthem at this weekend’s National Memorial Day Concert, which airs live Sunday night from 8-9:30 p.m. on PBS and around the globe to U.S. military service members on the American Forces Network.

A frequent advocate of the Wounded Warrior Project, Harmon says he might get choked up.

“Man, I don’t think there’s going to be any more moving of a ceremony than being able to look out over that crowd,” Harmon told WTOP. “I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to hold it all together, but I really can’t wait. I hope I have time to get there early or even maybe afterward and just walk through Arlington, just kind of soak it all in. It’s going to mean a lot to me. … This is a big deal to me.”

Turns out, Washington D.C. holds a special place in Harmon’s heart.

“D.C. is my most favorite childhood memory as far as family vacations go,” Harmon said. “Being a history major throughout college, it was kind of an inspiring moment for me to go to D.C. as a ninth or tenth grader, so that’s going to be an even bigger bucket list for me.”

It’s been a wild ride for Harmon since winning the “Idol” finale in April. The Mississippi native has since moved to Nashville to crank out songs for his upcoming record — the prize for winning “Idol.”

“It’s strange, man,” Harmon said. “I look at this from such a contestant-to-artist perspective. Even being around Keith Urban, Harry Connick and J-Lo, it’s such an artist-to-contestant perspective. And in one moment, they announce your name as the winner of the show, and now it’s artist-to-artist.”

He says he’s still not used to being part of the “Idol” club.

“I’m bumping arms and having lunch with the Scotty McCrearys, the Katharine McPhees, the Carrie Underwoods,” Harmon said in awe. “I’d be talking to David Cook and I would say, ‘Oh, excuse me, Mr. David,’ and he’d say, ‘Man, you don’t have to say that anymore. You’re one of us now.'”

The “Idol” fellowship will continue Sunday, as McPhee will also perform as part of the Memorial Day Concert, along with The Beach Boys, National Symphony Orchestra, Alfie Boe and Trace Adkins, who often salutes fallen soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery with the hit country song, “Arlington.”

“I actually got to see The Beach Boys in concert for the first time last summer and it was pretty surreal in itself,” Harmon said. “I hadn’t even auditioned for [‘Idol’] at that point, so now I’m sharing a stage with them artist to artist. That’s kind of weird if you really say it out loud from my perspective.”

Retired U.S. General Colin Powell will also make an appearance at the concert, which will be co-hosted by annual emcees Joe Mantegna and Gary Sinise, the latter of whom joined WTOP last week.

“We just wouldn’t miss it,” Sinise said. “It’s one of my favorite things to do each year. It’s a great way to pay tribute to those who have sacrificed for our country … we have great performers every year.”

Sinise and Mantegna will also co-host Monday’s National Memorial Day Parade on Constitution Avenue. The parade will include performances by Phil Vassar, John Michael Montgomery and Tony Orlando. It will be televised live nationally at 2 p.m. on REELZ network, locally on News Channel 8 in D.C., streamed online on Military.com and around the world on the American Forces Network.

The American Forces Network uses seven satellites and digital compression to broadcast events over 1,000 outlets in more than 175 countries and U.S. territories, as well as on board U.S. Navy ships.

But before you line up along the parade route on Monday, head down to the National Mall on Sunday and grab a spot for the 8 p.m. concert. The National Memorial Day Concert is free to the public.

Listen to the full interview with 2016 “American Idol” winner Trent Harmon below:

May 20, 2024 | (Jason Fraley)
Jason Fraley

Hailed by The Washington Post for “his savantlike ability to name every Best Picture winner in history," Jason Fraley began at WTOP as Morning Drive Writer in 2008, film critic in 2011 and Entertainment Editor in 2014, providing daily arts coverage on-air and online.

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