Jimmy Smits

Each year as America celebrates its birthday, few celebrations are as rife with emotion, inclusiveness and patriotic goodness as A Capitol Fourth, the PBS special that broadcasts from the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

A Capitol Fourth "reflects a tapestry of what this country is, just in terms of the music alone," says Jimmy Smits, who is repeating as host of the special.

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Among the music acts helping the U.S. of A. turn a spry 233 this year are Barry Manilow, Aretha Franklin, Natasha Bedingfield, the cast of Broadway's Jersey Boys and, yes, the Muppets.

Capping the evening is the National Symphony Orchestra's performance of Tchaikovsky's "1812 Overture," punctuated by cannon fire from the U.S. Army Presidential Salute Battery.

But truth be told, the true star of this particular televised celebration is its history-rich setting.

"Having the backdrop of these national monuments... that really puts a whole different spin on it," says Smits.

PBS' A Capitol Fourth airs Saturday, July 4, at 8 and 9:30 pm/ET.