The President and First Lady Host: In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement

Posted by: Audiegrl

February 9, 2010 marked the beginning of the 2010 White House music series with “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement” – a concert celebrating Black History month.

Earlier that day, the White House also hosted a “Music that Inspired the Movement” workshop. High school students from across the country participate in a workshop to learn about how music influenced the Civil Rights Movement.

Robert Santelli, the executive director of The GRAMMY Museum, and Smokey Robinson, the legendary Motown singer, will facilitate the workshop with performances by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, one of the original Freedom Singers in the 1960s who traveled around the country carrying stories in song of local Civil Rights Movement campaigns to national audiences. Other artists participated as well, including: John Legend, John Mellencamp, and Toshi Reagon.

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In the evening, the President and First Lady hosted the “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement” concert, featuring songs from the Civil Rights Movement as well as readings from famous Civil Rights speeches and writings with participants including Yolanda Adams, Joan Baez, Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Smokey Robinson, Seal, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Howard University Choir and The Freedom Singers, featuring Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Rutha Harris, Charles Neblett, Toshi Reagon and more. Robert De Niro, Morgan Freeman, Queen Latifah and Joanne Woodward will be guest speakers.

“The civil rights movement was a movement sustained by music,” Obama said as he welcomed his audience.

He said activists from coast to coast were inspired by spirituals, felt their will sharpened by protest songs and base broadened by artists of hope. He said their work paved the way toward a more just America that allowed him to make history in 2008 with his election.

“Tonight, we celebrate the music of the movement,” Obama said.

Singer Yolanda Adams’ moving rendition of Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” was an early highlight of a night filled with amazing performances.

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The celebration was supposed to come on Wednesday, but faced with another major winter storm the White House decided to move the concert ahead by a day to beat what could be a second crippling snowfall in a week. As guests packed the first floor of the executive mansion, heavy snow landed on the South Lawn and blanketed the rest of Washington.

Morgan Freeman

Actor and activist Morgan Freeman

Morgan Freeman, who read excerpts from historical works throughout the night, harkened back to the song lyrics Obama invoked during his election-night victory speech in Chicago’s Grant Park.

“A long time coming,” Freeman said.

He later deadpanned: “I wish I could sing.”

Obama said the music helped the movement’s faith as their leaders were jailed and their churches bombed.

“It’s hard to sing when times are rough,” Obama said. “The hymns helped … advance the cause of the nation.”

The concert was to be televised at 8 p.m. Thursday on public broadcasting stations nationwide as part of the “In Performance at the White House” series. National Public Radio also planned a one-hour concert special from the event to be broadcast nationwide on NPR stations beginning Friday.

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Looking for more stories on the First Lady? Check out our brand new section: FLOTUS: All Things Michelle Obama

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2 Comments

Filed under African-Americans, Art, Artists, Barack Obama, Change, Children, Civil Rights Movement, Culture, Dr. Jill Biden, Education, Entertainment, First Daughters, First Lady Michelle Obama, History, Hollywood, Live Stream Video, Media and Entertainment, Music, News, Politics, Pop Culture, Pres. Barack Obama, Presidents, Spirituality, Students, Technology, Television, TV Shows, Uncategorized, United States, Vice-President Joe Biden, Video/YouTube, Washington, DC, Women's Issues, Young Men, Young Women

2 responses to “The President and First Lady Host: In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement

  1. Pingback: The President and First Lady Host: In Performance at the White … | 'blog'clippix'net

  2. One People. One Nation.

    Waking to the voice of Morgan Freeman at a hotel in Folsom, was followed by the Most Inspirational set of Songs and Stories. This program rocked my core, providing me with the courage, strength and confidence to stay the course on a futile journey, I knew to be my panth in life!!!!!

    Can’t thank you enough for that moment, that time, that day. I had almost lost hope in what I believed to be true and just. Determined to see it through, I left my room that evening with unimaginable conviction that kept me focused on the most important thing in the world to me. I knew then, pain and suffering would always be a way of life for me. Like those before, faced with the same beliefs, it was fine by me. Faith in ourselves and those around us will prevail. So, until I help the one who needs me the most, Welcome To My Life.

    Just know that for now, it’s just another day.

    I still long for a different day. 😉

    Sincerely,

    Leslie Sunil Singh Rai

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