Obamas Spotlight American Music at White House

PHOTO: Entertainment at The White House

In their first six months in Washington, President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama have brought a little bit of country and a little bit of rock and roll to the White House.

Last night in the East Room, the Obamas celebrated the storytelling and history of country music, which the president called a "uniquely American art form."

The event, which included a lineup of top artists, is the second in a series of musical performances at the White House launched by the first lady as a way to encourage arts and arts education.

The Obamas hosted a similar event last month highlighting jazz, and it will showcase classical music in the fall.

Video of the White House country music concert.
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Obama admitted at the start of the evening that, as a "city boy," he may not fit the mold for a country music fan.

"But I do appreciate listening to country music, because like all Americans, I appreciate the broad and indelible impact that country has had on our nation," the president said.

The White House Music Series is part of the continued effort by the Obamas to open up the White House to artists, students, and diverse voices.

Country Music Hall of Famer Charley Pride and chart-toppers Brad Paisley and Alison Krauss and Union Station performed for the Obamas and their guests, which included White House staff such as country music-loving and cowboy boots-wearing budget director Peter Orszag, and members of Congress.

ABC News video of country musicians at the White House.
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On Tuesday afternoon, Paisley and Krauss participated in a music education workshop at the White House for nearly 100 middle and high school students. The students came from schools from all across the country, chosen because of their dedication to educating children in their communities through music, the first lady's office said.

Paisley, reigning Country Music Association male vocalist of the year, and Krauss, a fiddle player and singer who has won 26 Grammy Awards, the most of any female performer in any genre, performed a few songs and told the aspiring musicians in the audience to persevere in their music.

President, First Lady Aim to Celebrate American Art

ABC News video of Michelle Obama at the White House
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Both the president and first lady have expressed their interest in highlighting the importance of the arts in American life and history.

Last month they held a day of jazz at the White House, featuring one of that genre's first families, the Marsalis brothers.

Michele Obama said the event, like the country music performance, featured a workshop for promising jazz music students, exemplifying her view of the White House as "the People's House."

"This is a place to honor America's past, celebrate its present and create its future. And that's why all of you are here today. It's about you, the future," she said. "And what better example of this than jazz, America's indigenous art form."

Video of the White House poetry jam.
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Michelle Obama talked about the role jazz played in her own upbringing. "At Christmas, birthdays, Easter, it didn't matter, there was jazz playing in our household," she said.

The first lady's office said the trio of events was meant to celebrate American music, and at the same time demonstrate the importance of arts education for students.

The first lady even indicated that the music appreciation lessons would apply in her own household.

"I brought my own family with me today, because I want to keep them alive and aware of all kinds of music other than hip-hop," she said at last month's jazz event.

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