As President Obama has halted funding for White House tours and Blue Angels performances, citing the budget sequester, he and First Wife Michelle geared up Tuesday for a star-studded, soul music concert in the White House that featured such celebs as Justin Timberlake, Queen Latifah, and the Reverend Al Green.
Only a few days before the big gala concert, the Obama Administration claimed sequestration caused January’s anemic jobs numbers by cutting vital government services. However, the purportedly severe cutbacks of government spending didn’t stop the President from enjoying a night of stirring soul music during Tuesday’s program, titled In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul.
First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off the April 9 tribute to Soul with an hour-long, morning program held in the White House State Dining Room billed as a “guidance” on the night’s Memphis Soul performance. The event was held for students and music lovers and featured soul greats Sam Moore, Mavis Staples, Charlie Musselwhite, Ben Harper, and pop star Justin Timberlake as panel members taking questions from the audience.
Mrs. Obama opened the morning’s introductory program by discussing the importance of music in America today and urged the children in the audience to faithfully practice playing music.
“The only way for you to become the best musician you can be is to keep pushing through those moments when something doesn’t seem fun by spending hours in the practice room repeating those scales and drilling into that theory,” she said. “And if you do all that… you might become a better performer than you ever imagined.”
The First Lady went on to note that even if one doesn’t become a musician for a career choice, all that effort is still a worthy exercise.
“When I was young I played the piano, now as I try to remind my kids I regret the fact that I didn’t keep it up. I try to tell them that every single day,” she claimed.
The full concert was recorded later that evening and included performances by Alabama Shakes, William Bell, Steve Cropper, Al Green, Ben Harper, Queen Latifah, Cyndi Lauper, Joshua Ledet, Sam Moore, Charlie Musselwhite, Mavis Staples, and Justin Timberlake, with Booker T. Jones as music director and band leader.
During the night’s finale, the artists tried to get President Obama to join in the singing on stage, but the President rebuffed the offer.
Despite declining to sing, Barack and Michelle stayed on the stage during the finale, shaking hands, dancing, and clapping.
The concert was recorded for television, and In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul was broadcast Tuesday on PBS stations nationwide.