First Lady Michelle Obama kicked off Women’s History Month on a high note on today — celebrating alongside some of music’s most talented “women of soul” and over 100 students from across the country.
“Today we’re celebrating the kind of music that makes you move no matter who you are or where you come from; music that taps into feelings and experiences that we all share — love and heartbreak, pride and doubt, tragedy and triumph. It is called soul music,” Obama said at the “I’m every woman: The History of Women in Soul” event.
“Sometimes it makes your hips move. Sometimes it makes you rock your head. Sometimes it helps you just kick back and relax and soak it in. But no matter what form it comes in, you know this music always comes straight from the heart,” she continued. ”You know you’re listening to someone who’s found her own unique voice, and isn’t afraid to show it to the world. And these women are perfect examples of just that.”
Obama was joined by Melissa Etheridge, her “other mother” Pattie LaBelle and Janelle Monáe, who she said is now like another child to her.
“We might as well give her a room here because she’s here so much,” she joked.
Today’s event is part of the “In Performance at the White House” series and will continue well into the evening with star-studded performances by this morning’s guests, Aretha Franklin, Ariana Grande, and others, celebrating the “foremothers” of American music who pour both their struggles and their achievements into their songs.
The three singers talked about their road to fame, Monáe highlighting her “living room training,” and LaBelle reminisced about her days spent singing in front of the mirror with a broom in hand instead of a microphone. Before performing for the students, they touched on the struggles each faced and offered some advice.
“You’ve got to have a dream, you’ve got to create, you don’t have to be a huge star, but you’ve got to create something in this life every day, that’s what moves you forward,” Etheridge said. “It’s what gets you up in the morning, it’s what keeps you alive. That dream is what we’re all here to do.”
LaBelle, who said she was too shy as a child to even ask her teacher to go to the bathroom, advised the students to embrace both their talents and identity.
“This is the time to realize that I have something that touches people, and it doesn’t matter who you are, what race, what religion, what gender, straight, gay whatever,” she said.
Obama agreed, saying, “At one time or another, we all had to find our own voices and show the world what we have inside. ”