'Idol' Kelly to sing at 9/11 youth event
(CNN) -- "American Idol" winner Kelly Clarkson is still scheduled to sing the national anthem at a September 11 youth gathering in Washington, contrary to some media reports, according to the head of the charitable organization that asked her.
"She is definitely singing," said Melissa Helmbrecht, founder and CEO of Champions of Hope, the youth service group that organized the "United Day of Service."
The ceremony at which Clarkson, 20, will sing concludes a day of service for youth across the country.
Persons from age 5 to 25 will participate in volunteer projects in their communities such as collecting food and cleaning up graffiti, said Dave DeCicco, communications manager for Youth Service America, which is helping to coordinate the event.
Some confusion over Clarkson's status likely began with several articles that noted that her management company, 19 Entertainment, a producer of "American Idol," had agreed that the winner of the TV competition would sing at the event.
The news prompted some criticism that September 11 was being commercialized. This did not sit well with Clarkson, who maintained she wanted to stay away from anything that suggested marketing on September 11.
"If anybody thinks I'm trying to market anything, well, that's awful," The New York Times reported her as saying. "I am not going to do it" -- not going to shill on September 11, in other words.
A press release issued Monday by 19 Management, a division of 19 Entertainment, read: "Kelly Clarkson will sing the national anthem on September 11 in Washington, D.C. As she has previously said, she is 'honored by the invitation.' Media reports to the contrary are incorrect."
Clarkson's selection as a guest at the "United Day of Service" event had nothing to do with publicizing "American Idol," Helmbrecht said.
The organization, which had arranged a day of youth service on the first anniversary of the 1999 Columbine shootings, had been urged by participants in that project to do something on the one-year anniversary of the September 11 attacks to honor the victims.
During a planning discussion, the question of who should sing the national anthem came up, Helmbrecht said.
"And one person said it should be the 'American Idol' winner," she said. "Everybody was electrified."
Champions of Hope pursued 19 Entertainment, she said, not the other way around.
"They thought it was a great idea. And when we publicized it, involvement shot through the roof. It's had an incredibly positive effect nationwide."
The group expects tens of thousands of participants across America, she said.
The negative stories have hurt the event, she said.
"We've put everything we have into this event," Helmbrecht said. "The purpose is to help America heal. So the negative publicity has been very painful. [Commercialization] is the opposite of what we're trying to achieve. ... We've been getting very deflated by the whole thing."
The Washington event, to be held at the Lincoln Memorial beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET, will be the culmination of the day of service.
Sean Astin of "The Lord of the Rings" will be master of ceremonies. The ceremony will also honor several individuals for service and leadership in hunger, literacy, the environment, emergency relief, and children's health, according to a press release.
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