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Memphis soul comes to the White House tonight

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Mavis Staples will sing at the White House this evening. (photo by Jalylah Burrell from Wikipedia, under Creative Commons License)

The White House will host a who’s-who of legendary soul musicians and modern stars Tuesday night in its latest “In Performance” concert.

This will be the tenth “In Performance at the White House” show, and will focus on Memphis Soul. Several artists from the classic Stax-Volt record label will be featured, most notably Mavis Staples, who sang classics such as “I’ll Take You There.” Guitarist Steve Cropper (who played for Booker T and the MGs, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, and pretty much everybody else on the Stax-Volt label), Sam Moore from Sam and Dave, “Knock on Wood” singer Eddie Floyd, and William Bell will also perform.

Justin Timberlake, the Alabama Shakes, harmonica virtuoso Charlie Musselwhite, Ben Harper, and Queen Latifah are also on the bill. The only performer that really makes me scratch my head, however, is Cyndi Lauper. (Yes, I know she released a star-studded blues album in 2010. I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that the woman who sang “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” is trying to remake herself as a blues shouter.)

Booker T. Jones of Booker T. and the MGs will be tonight’s bandleader. It will stream starting at 6:55 p.m. EST on the White House’s website, and will air on PBS stations nationwide April 16 at 8 p.m.

Past shows have paid tribute to Motown, blues, country, Latino music, Broadway showtunes, and music from the Civil Rights movement. During last year’s blues concert, President Obama even took a turn at the mic during the all-star jam on “Sweet Home Chicago.” But for me, the funniest moment from that show came during Gary Clark Jr.’s smoldering performance of “Catfish Blues,” when the camera caught Obama lost in the music, with his eyes closed, head bobbing, and mouthing the lyrics. That moment of presidential music geekery can be seen at the 1:30 point in the following video.

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Comments

  1. Monica Says:
    April 9th, 2013 at 11:25 am

    Don’t sleep on Cyndi Lauper. She is a phenomenal entertainer!, and she was born to sing the blues.

  2. Cathy Hand Says:
    April 9th, 2013 at 5:06 pm

    Seriously? The requirement for federal agencies is to cut everything that is not mission essential, (which actually includes updated training ) White House tours are eliminated for many who hope to see THEIR house when visiting Washington, and yet the choice is made for private White House concerts. Shame on you President Obama.

  3. Deb Y. Says:
    April 10th, 2013 at 5:51 am

    Booker T. Jones of Booker T. and the MGs will be tonight’s bandleader. It will stream starting at 6:55 p.m. EST on the White House’s website, and will air on PBS stations nationwide April 16 at 8 p.m.
    What the hell is up with this? We can’t afford White House tours for the people who actually own the Whit House but we can have this? Is it streamed live so we the little people can see what we are missing? I have never been so embarrassed to be a US citizen or more unhappy with the US. We have people starving right here in the US which we can’t feed but we can pay for garbage like this. SHAME ON US.

  4. Tom Says:
    April 12th, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    Which budget pays for such entertainment, and why hasn’t it been decimated with sequestration cuts? Regardless, the government should not being paying anything for such “tributes” – maybe the entertainers donate their services to pay a national tribute to their genres…if not, the tributes should be cancelled.

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