He might be singing them for real come November, but on Tuesday night President Obama was in an entertaining mood and treated a celebrity-filled audience at the White House to some classic Blues music. Among the guests at the In performance in the White House: Red, White and Blues event were Mick Jagger and Blues legend B.B. King.
The music legends and contemporary singers were at the White House to mark Black History Month.
Obama began by wishing everyone present a happy Mardi Gras and then talked about blues singers such as Muddy Waters. In an impassioned speech Obama said:
“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 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.”
“The music migrated north — from Mississippi Delta to Memphis to my hometown in Chicago. It helped lay the foundation for rock and roll, and R&B and hip-hop. It inspired artists and audiences around the world. And as tonight’s performers will demonstrate, the blues continue to draw a crowd. Because this music speaks to something universal. 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.”
“And as we celebrate Black History Month, the blues reminds us that we’ve been through tougher times before — that’s why I’m proud to have these artists here — and not just as a fan, but also as the President. Because their 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. And even as we confront the challenges of today, we imagine a brighter tomorrow, saying, I can do it, just like Muddy Waters did all those years ago.”
After being handed the microphone by Rolling Stones lead singer Mick Jagger, a rather tuneful Obama joined some of the stars on stage to deliver a few lines of “Sweet Home Chicago”. This is the second time that Obama has taken to the stage recently. Obama sang a few lines from the Al Green classic “Let’s Stay Together” at a recent fundraiser.
The President looked to be enjoying himself at the event and was seen grinning broadly while hand in hand with his wife Michelle. And the verdict on his singing? One reporter declared it as “not bad” . That said, perhaps Obama should not give up the day job just yet.