Celebrating Black History Through Music


Another influential jazz musician, Duke Ellington, might not have been quite as intimidated by the presidential surroundings when he had the opportunity to perform at the White House. Ellington's father worked as a butler in the White House.

Ellington shares a laugh with President Nixon at the musician's 70th birthday party in 1969.

Nixon also presented Ellington with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian honor.

Blues great B.B. King, left, brought along a gift, a guitar, for Bush, when he performed at the White House during a celebration of Black Music Month in 2006.

President Bush, with his gift in hand, praises King's performance in the East Room.

At Tuesday's Black History Month celebration, Bush quoted Temptation Otis Williams, who once said, "The highest achievement for me has been ... to have our music penetrate all kinds of barriers — for it to be colorless."

The legacy of these artists has shown the ability of music to not only penetrate, but unite.

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