Even the president gets the blues. As President Obama explained tonight, there are times when you want to take a walk or go for a drive and you just can’t do it.
“But then there are other nights where B.B. King and Mick Jagger come over to your house to play for a concert. So I guess things even out a little bit,” Obama joked at the start of a star-studded White House concert celebrating the history and lasting impact of the blues.
The president and first lady were treated to electrifying performances by music legends and young stars in the East Room as 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 Mrs. Obama, joined by first grandmother Marian Robinson and members of the administration and Congress, enjoyed 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.”
Tonight’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.
“The blues bore witness to these hard times. And like so many of the men and women who sang them, the blues refused to be limited by the circumstances of their birth,” he said.
Obama praised the music for teaching listeners the ability to overcome adversity.
“This music speaks to something universal,” the president said. “No one goes through life without both joy and pain, triumph and sorrow. The blues gets all of that, sometimes with just one lyric or one note.”
Obama said the music “teaches us that when we find ourselves at a crossroads, we don’t shy away from our problems. We own them. We face up to them. We deal with them. We sing about them. We turn them into art.”