Obamas Spotlight American Music at White House

Anita McBride, former chief of staff to first lady Laura Bush, said country and jazz music are "classic American" genres and the Obamas are making a statement about the United States as a culturally rich nation.

"It's so uniquely American and at the White House you do want to showcase America's talent, musical talent and artistic talent," said McBride.

McBride, who played a role in conceiving and executing events like celebrations marking the birthdays of William Shakespeare in 2005 or Teddy Roosevelt in 2008, said that while the events are tricky to pull together, it is not hard to get eager participants.

"The White House is one place where every artist you ask to come perform there is happy to come perform and say they have performed at the White House," she said.

As a result the Obamas have invited a wide range of artists, from singer Stevie Wonder to the band Earth Wind and Fire, even Fergie of the Black Eyes Peas, to drop by for a presidential performance.

Wonder's invitation was inevitable. His classic tune "Signed, Sealed, Delivered" was a staple at Obama's campaign stops, and the president credited Wonder with playing a key role in his marriage to Michelle.

"I think it's fair to say that had I not been a Stevie Wonder fan, Michelle might not have dated me. We might not have married. The fact that we agreed on Stevie was part of the essence of our courtship," Obama said at a White House ceremony in February when he presented the singer with the 2nd annual Gershwin Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Library of Congress.

Obamas Showcase History of the U.S., White House

Hosting social events at the White House is certainly not a new concept. Though the Bushes may have had a reputation as being homebodies, they frequently entertained for friends and guests, as did the Clintons and other first families before them.

But the Obamas have made a point of highlighting their desire to throw open the doors on the White House's North Portico, have some fun and at the same time celebrate the history of the country and the famous residence.

"All of the events at the White House, particularly the social events, are meant to be a reflection of the styles and the taste of the president and the first lady," said McBride.

In May, the Obamas hosted what is thought to be the first poetry slam session at the White House, an evening dedicated to the art of the spoken word, featuring poets and actors doing dramatic readings.

"Let me tell you, I have wanted to do this from day one -- the notion of standing in this room and hearing some poetry and spoken word," the first lady said at the event.

In March, Michelle Obama celebrated women's history month with a gathering of what the White House billed were "women of excellence," including musicians Alicia Keyes and Sheryl Crow, actress Phylicia Rashad and basketball star Lisa Leslie Lockwood.

"As I started thinking about the kinds of things that I wanted to see happen, this day was one of those things -- gathering an amazing group of women together, and going out, and talking to young girls around this country," the first lady said at the White House.

Last month, the president teamed with Dwyane Wade of the NBA's Miami Heat, Antwan Randel El of the NFL's Washington Redskins, and pro skateboarder Tony Hawk among others to promote fatherhood with events across Washington, D.C., with young men and a barbecue at the White House.

ABC News' Jon Garcia contributed to this report.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8140337. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8140337. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8140337. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8140337. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8140337. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8140337. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8140337. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8140337. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8140337. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8140337. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8140337. -- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 8140337.
Page
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...