Category Archives: Music

Behind-the-Scenes Video: “A Broadway Celebration” at the White House

Posted by: Audiegrl
Written by Kori Schulman

This summer, the President and First Lady continued their White House music series with “A Broadway Celebration” to honor the arts and demonstrate the importance of arts education. Before joining the ranks of Broadway’s brightest stars, dance students from local schools performed in a special dress rehearsal for the First Lady, their parents and teachers.

A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House is emceed by Nathan Lane and includes Idina Menzel, Brian d’Arcy James, Audra McDonald, Chad Kimball, Elaine Stritch, Marvin Hamlisch, Karen Olivo, Tonya Pinkins, Assata Alston and a youth ensemble from the Joy of Motion Dance Center and Duke Ellington School of the Arts, with Danielle Arci and Constantine Rousouli.

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

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First Lady Michelle Obama in Harper’s Bazzar: America’s Got Talent

Posted by: Audiegrl


Harper’s Bazaar recently talked about the arts with Michelle Obama, who recalled her involvement in music and theater as a girl in Chicago. She donned her own L’Wren Scott sheath for the photo shoot and posed with musicians Jason Yoder, Antonio Madruga, Elijah Easton, Zach Brown, and Kush Abadey and glass artists Carmen Salazar and Caleb Siemon. Photo by Jason Schmidt.

“I was fortunate to grow up in a family that appreciates music,” she observes. “My maternal grandfather, we called him South Side, was a big jazz-music collector. He would play jazz 24 hours a day. As my mother said, when she was growing up, ‘You learn to sleep through jazz.’ He had speakers in every room in his house–including the bathroom.” It was South Side who gave Michelle her first album, Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book.At school, she performed herself once. “I remember very early on being the good fairy in Hansel and Gretel and having to sing a solo, which was humiliating.” In a fairy outfit? “Yes, it was a little tutu fairy costume, and I liked it because of the costume.” (Now, at least, Mrs. Obama’s best-dressed status has a basis in history.) “Oh, and my brother,” she says, laughing, “was Hansel.”

She also touched on sharing the arts with other first ladies, like Carla Bruni and Svetlana Medvedeva:

“It’s a universal voice. When I travel to other countries, usually the first thing the spouses do is introduce you to their cultures through music and dance. [French first lady] Carla Bruni-Sarkozy is a musician. We gave her a Gibson guitar. When I came to visit, she pulled it out and played the most beautiful song. We were sitting there with family, and we started singing.” When Mrs. Obama met the Russian first lady, Svetlana Medvedeva, last year, “She took me and my girls to see beautiful Russian folk dancing, and although we didn’t speak the same language, we instantly connected.” One of Mrs. Obama’s priorities is to create an exchange between Russian arts students and kids from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. “Mrs. Medvedeva grasped the significance of what arts and music and song can mean to international relations.”

Young talent finds its voice. Chelsea Harrison, Anitra McKinney, Roy Patten Jr., Jumohny Shardenea Walker, and Kenneth L. Washington Jr. of the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Andrew W. Jenkins, Arthur A. McKeithen, Jasmine C. Parnell, Geoffrey Phillips, and Kayla Waters of the Howard University Choir. Mrs. Obama’s clothing and accessories throughout, her own.

Cross-cultural exchange. Clifton Brown and Constance Stamatiou of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Moneesha Muneet Gill, Navjit Singh, Omer Mirza, Michelle Puneet Gill, and Jackie Thind of Bhangra Empire; and Nicole A. Turchi, Elizabeth Whalen, Namaad Jackson, Tricia Brown, and Eric Scott of Joy of Motion Dance Center.

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

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Filed under Art, Dancing, First Lady Michelle Obama, Music, Uncategorized

Behind-the-Scenes Video with the Jonas Brothers and the First Family

Posted by: Audiegrl

Last month, President Obama awarded Paul McCartney the annual Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Artists from all the genres and backgrounds paid tribute to the music legend with a concert hosted by the President and First Lady at the White House. Take a break and go behind-the-scenes with the Jonas Brothers as they prepare for and perform the Beatles classic “Drive My Car” for President Obama and Sir Paul.

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Don’t miss the “In Performance at the White House” music special with performances by McCartney himself, Jonas Brothers, Stevie Wonder, Elvis Costello, Herbie Hancock, Corinne Bailey Rae, Dave Grohl, Faith Hill, Emmylou Harris, Lang Lang and Jack White, with remarks by Jerry Seinfeld on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 8:00 PM EDT on PBS stations nationwide. Check your local listings here.

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

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Filed under First Daughters, First Lady Michelle Obama, Music, Pres. Barack Obama, Uncategorized

The Obama’s Welcome Broadway to the White House

Posted by: Audiegrl

Tonight the President and First Lady continued their White House music series with “A Broadway Celebration” to honor the arts and demonstrate the importance of arts education. The White House has consistently looked to support the arts even during these tough times. As the President has said, “the arts are not somehow apart from our national life, the arts are at the heart of our national life.” This evening’s event was the sixth in a series that showcases the music that has shaped and enriched our country – preceded by tributes to jazz, country, Latin, classical and the music of the Civil Rights Movement.

This afternoon, dance students from the local Duke Ellington School of the Arts and the Joy of Motion Dance Center will work with Tony Award winning choreographer Jerry Mitchell on a segment from the Broadway show Hairspray. The youth ensemble will come to the White House to perform in a special dress rehearsal for the First Lady, their parents and teachers, before joining the ranks of some of Broadway’s most prestigious performers.

Tonight’s performances included selections from American musicals that reflect the spirit, energy and ambition of America, featuring Nathan Lane, Idina Menzel, Audra McDonald, Elaine Stritch, Brian d’Arcy James, Chad Kimball, Tonya Pinkins, Marvin Hamlisch, Karen Olivo, Assata Alston, Danielle Arci and Constantine Rousouli under the direction of George C. Wolfe.

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Honor Sir Paul McCartney at White House

Posted by: Audiegrl

Written by Kori Schulman

Sir Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder perform Ebony and Ivory at a concert honoring McCartney, recipient of the Gershwin prize, in the East Room of the White House. June 2, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Samantha Appleton)


Last night, President Obama presented America’s highest award for popular music − the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song − to Sir Paul McCartney in the East Room of the White House.

Artists from all genres and backgrounds joined the President and First Lady to honor Sir Paul McCartney, including Stevie Wonder, the Jonas Brothers, Faith Hill, Emmylou Harris, Lang Lang, Herbie Hancock, Elvis Costello, Jack White, Corinne Bailey Rae, David Grohl, and Jerry Seinfeld. As they gathered to present the annual award for extraordinary contributions to American music and culture, in his remarks, the President took a moment to address the challenges Americans face and the value of music in tough times:

We’ve gone through a difficult year and a half, and right now our thoughts and our prayers are with friends in another part of the country that is so rich in musical heritage — the people of the Gulf Coast who are dealing with something that we simply had not seen before. And it’s heartbreaking. And we reaffirm, I think together, our commitment to see to it that their lives and their communities are made whole again.

But part of what gets us through tough times is music, the arts, the ability to capture that essential kernel of ourselves, that part of us that sings even when times are hard. And it’s fitting that the Library has chosen to present this year’s Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to a man whose father played Gershwin compositions for him on the piano; a man who grew up to become the most successful songwriter in history -– Sir Paul McCartney.

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The concert will be broadcast on PBS stations nationwide on Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 8:00 PM EDT as “In Performance at the White House Celebrating the Music of Paul McCartney: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize.”

Corinne Bailey Rae performs at a concert honoring Paul McCartney, recipient of the Gershwin prize, in the East Room of the White House. June 2, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Last year, the President presented Stevie Wonder with the 2nd Annual Library of Congress Gershwin Prize. The prize commemorates George and Ira Gershwin, the legendary American songwriting team whose extensive manuscript collections reside in the Library of Congress. The prize is awarded to musicians whose lifetime contributions in the field of popular song exemplify the standard of excellence associated with the Gershwins.

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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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Filed under First Daughters, First Lady Michelle Obama, Music, Pop Culture, Pres. Barack Obama, Video/YouTube

Legendary Singer and Activist Lena Horne Dies at 92

Posted by: TheLCster

AP~Lena Horne, the enchanting jazz singer and actress known for her plaintive, signature song “Stormy Weather” and for her triumph over the bigotry that allowed her to entertain white audiences but not socialize with them, has died. She was 92.

Horne died Sunday at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, said hospital spokeswoman Gloria Chin, who would not release details.

“Her timeless legacy will forever be celebrated as part of the fabric of American popular music, and our deepest sympathies go out to her family, friends, and fans worldwide as we all mourn the loss of one of music’s signature voices,” Neil Portnow, president and CEO of the Recording Academy, said Monday in a statement.

Horne, whose striking beauty often overshadowed her talent and artistry, was remarkably candid about the underlying reason for her success: “I was unique in that I was a kind of black that white people could accept,” she once said. “I was their daydream. I had the worst kind of acceptance because it was never for how great I was or what I contributed. It was because of the way I looked.”

“I knew her from the time I was born, and whenever I needed anything she was there. She was funny, sophisticated and truly one of a kind. We lost an original. Thank you Lena,” Liza Minnelli said Monday. Her father, director Vincente Minnelli, brought Horne to Hollywood to star in “Cabin in the Sky,” in 1943.

In the 1940s, Horne was one of the first black performers hired to sing with a major white band, to play the Copacabana nightclub in New York City and when she signed with MGM, she was among a handful of black actors to have a contract with a major Hollywood studio.

In 1943, MGM Studios loaned her to 20th Century-Fox to play the role of Selina Rogers in the all-black movie musical “Stormy Weather.” Her rendition of the title song became a major hit and her most famous tune.

Horne had an impressive musical range, from blues and jazz to the sophistication of Rodgers and Hart in such songs as “The Lady Is a Tramp” and “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered.” In 1942’s “Panama Hattie,” her first movie with MGM, she sang Cole Porter’s “Just One of Those Things,” winning critical acclaim.

In her first big Broadway success, as the star of “Jamaica” in 1957, reviewer Richard Watts Jr. called her “one of the incomparable performers of our time.” Songwriter Buddy de Sylva dubbed her “the best female singer of songs.”

“It’s just a great loss,” said Janet Jackson Monday. “She brought much joy into everyone’s lives – even the younger generations, younger than myself. She was such a great talent. She opened up such doors for artists like myself.”

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Statement by President Obama and First Lady Michelle on the Passing of Lena Horne

“Michelle and I were deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Lena Horne – one of our nation’s most cherished entertainers. Over the years, she warmed the hearts of countless Americans with her beautiful voice and dramatic performances on screen. From the time her grandmother signed her up for an NAACP membership as a child, she worked tirelessly to further the cause of justice and equality. In 1940, she became the first African American performer to tour with an all white band. And while entertaining soldiers during World War II, she refused to perform for segregated audiences – a principled struggle she continued well after the troops returned home. Michelle and I offer our condolences to all those who knew and loved Lena , and we join all Americans in appreciating the joy she brought to our lives and the progress she forged for our country.”

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Future Pop Stars Risk Their Lives To Sing for Freedom

Written by: Bluedog89

Award-winning film "Afghan Star - The Documentary." Promotional poster by Zeitgeist Films.

The award-winning “Afghan Star – The Documentary,” showcases the “American Idol”-like pop competition “Afghan Star” that is sweeping Afghanistan.

Since the TV show’s inception in 2005, its popularity has spread like wildfire, with “Afghan Star” contestants chosen despite gender and voted on democratically by the general public via cell phone.

The documentary follows several contest participants as they literally sing for their lives, particularly the women, who are judged harshly by the still-mostly conservative public that was once dominated by the Taliban.

The film is available on DVD and will be featured on HBO this month.

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Filed under Afghanistan, Documentary, HBO, Middle East, Movies, Music, Pop, Pop Culture, Religion, Sexism, Television, TV Shows, Women's Issues, World