White House Black History Celebration Continues; Obama Sings the Blues
(WASHINGTON) — President Obama showed off his vocal abilities once again Tuesday night, singing a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago” during the finale of a blues concert at the White House.
“We were trying to get you to help us sing that because I heard you singing Al Green,” blues great Buddy Guy urged the president from the stage, referring to Obama’s infamous performance at the Apollo last month when he sang a few lines of “Let’s Stay Together.”
“So you’ve started something. You’ve got to keep it up,” Guy said.
A reluctant Obama ultimately obliged.
“Come on… Baby don’t you want to go,” Obama sang, mic in hand, as the crowd swayed around him and the first lady cheered him on. “Oh come on, baby don’t you want to go.”
The president then held the mic up briefly for the legendary B.B. King to sing the line “… that same old place,” before Obama brought it home, “… sweet home Chicago.”
The president joined the band in the closing moments of a concert by music legends and young stars in the East Room that was part of the White House Concert Series.
B.B. King, “The King of Blues,” dressed to the nines in a shimmery jacket, kicked off the celebration with a rousing rendition of “Let the Good Times Roll” followed by “The Thrill Is Gone.”
The president and Michelle Obama, joined by first grandmother Marian Robinson and members of the administration and Congress, listened to the music of Trombone Shorty, Shemekia Copeland, Keb Mo and Jeff Beck, among others.
Jagger took to the stage roughly half-way through the concert and lived up to expectations, belting out “I Can’t Turn You Loose” and “Miss You.”
Tuesday night’s salute to the blues was in recognition of Black History Month.
“This is music with humble beginnings — roots in slavery and segregation, a society that rarely treated black Americans with the dignity and respect that they deserved,” the president said.
Earlier Tuesday, first lady Michelle Obama hailed blues music as “deeply American” and “deeply human” at a workshop for several dozen middle and high school students in the State Dining Room — an event held as part of the ongoing White House music series and in recognition of African-American history month.
“This music wraps all of our emotions — whether it’s love and loss, joy and sorrow, heartbreak and celebration — it wraps it all into an art form that stirs our souls and it helps us rise above all our struggles,” the first lady said.
She was joined on stage by singer-songwriter guitarist Keb Mo; vocal artist Shemekia Copeland; and trombonist Troy ‘Trombone Shorty’ Andrews. Mo has won three Grammys, while Copeland and Andrews have both been nominated.
The first lady told the young audience that the career paths of the artists and her husband, President Obama, illustrate what can be achieved through hard work.
“The President didn’t start out at the top either. Neither did I, but let’s talk about him for a little bit since he’s not here,” she said, drawing laughter. “He had to work hard, and get a little focused — and he wasn’t focused all the time. It was later in life that he got a little focus, right? So even if you mess up a little bit, you can get right on track.”
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