The White House hosted its 10th installment of the “In Performance at the White House” series last night celebrating the sounds of Memphis soul music. President Obama asked, “Let’s face it, who does not love this music?” in his opening remarks before sitting down to enjoy his front row seats along side First lady Michelle Obama and their daughters, Malia and Sasha.
Taking place in the East Room, the Memphis Soul celebration was hosted by Queen Latifah and included performances by Memphis native Justin Timberlake, who performed a soulful rendition of Otis Redding’s hit “The Dock of the Bay” Sam Moore (half of the duo Sam & Dave) and ‘American Idol’ season 11 finalist/gospel singer Joshua Ledet who came together for Moore’s hit “Soul Man.” Other guest performers included: Ben Harper, Cyndi Lauper, Mavis Staples, and host Queen Latifah.
The concert was held to celebrate the efforts of blacks and whites who came together in segregated Memphis, Tenn., during the 1960s to create timeless music. President Obama stated:
These songs get us on the dance floor, they get stuck in our heads. We go back over them again and again. And they’ve played an important part in our history.They weren’t allowed to go to school together. They weren’t always allowed to travel or eat together, but no one could stop them from playing music together.
And that was the spirit of their music – the sound of Soulsville, U.S.A., a music that, at its core, is about the pain of being alone, the power of human connection, and the importance of treating each other right. After all, this is the music that asked us to try a little tenderness. It’s the music that put Mr. Big Stuff in his place. And it’s the music that challenged us to accept new ways of thinking with four timeless words: ‘Can you dig it?'”
Peep Justin Timberlake’s performance below.
The concert is scheduled to air April 16th on PBS.