Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Obama's got the blues: President belts out a few bars as he joins B.B. King and Mick Jagger to salute Black History Month

Even the President of the United States can't say no to the king of the blues.

.Oh, go on then: Obama didn't miss the opportunity to sing a few bars of blues classic Sweet Home Chicago with legends B.B King and Mick Jagger at the White House last night
.Listen up: B.B. King was part of the ensemble cast at the White House during a blues performance to celebrate Black History Month
Barack Obama found himself belting out a few bars of Sweet Home Chicago, the blues anthem of his  hometown, after being cajoled by the legendary B.B. King - part of an ensemble of musical stars who came together at the White House last night to celebrate Black History Month.

The intimate gig in the East Room had almost wound down, when guitarist Buddy Guy reminded the president that he had burst into a cover of Al Green's Let's Stay Together at a recent rally. The musician quipped to Obama: 'You gotta keep it up.'

With wife Michelle clapping her approval and cheers from the crowd, Obama shook his head in refusal - but then readily accepted a microphone offered by Mick Jagger before he launched into song.

'Come on, baby don't you want to go,' the president sang twice, handing the microphone to B.B. King momentarily - then taking it back to tack on 'Sweet Home Chicago' before making a suave exit.

The President's impromptu burst into song came as leading Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum dubbed Obama a 'rock star' who was acting like royalty running the country.

Earlier this week, Santorum told the Maricopa County Lincoln Day lunch in Phoenix, Arizona: 'Back in 2008, the American public at a time of crisis went for a rock star that they believed could solve their problems, someone that they believed in to make a difference in their lives.
.Sharing a tune: B.B. King (left) and the President improvised on the last song of the night Sweet Home Chicago

Thiselection, Americans are going to go back to what we've done in the past. We're looking for leaders, not who we believe in, we're looking for a leader who believes in you.'

At the star-studded White House event, Obama opened the celebration by telling the crowd there were 'downsides' to running the country -  before adding that 'things even out a little bit' when music legends like King and Jagger, along with Jeff Beck, Buddy Guy and Grammy-winner Keb Mo, stopped by to jam.

.Smooth: First Lady Michelle looks delighted as the President improvised on a couple of bars with the ensemble blues cast
The President continued: '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.'

B.B. King, 86, arrived in a wheelchair but stood to kick off the night with a raucous version of Let The Good Times Roll. He followed with The Thrill Is Gone.

.Rock and roll: Jeff Beck
Obama, who was joined at the concert by wife Michelle and her mother Marian Robinson, swayed in his seat and sang along to a playlist including St James Infirmary and Let Me Love You.

Beck slowed things down with an instrumental Brush With the Blues, as anticipation built for the arrival of Mick Jagger, who did not disappoint.

The Rolling Stones frontman sang I Can't Turn You Loose and then teamed up with Beck on Commit a Crime.

Jagger got the Obamas out of their seats, swaying and clapping to the music, and picked up the pace with Miss You performed with Shemekia Copeland and Susan Tedeschi.

Obama at times closed his eyes and nodded his head along to the music.
Keb Mo
Before the closing number of Sweet Home Chicago, Obama said: 'For Michelle and me, there's no blues like the song our artists have chosen to close with - the blues from our hometown.'

The lineup for Tuesday's concert spanned multiple generations, from legends like King and Guy to young faces such as 26-year-old Troy 'Trombone Shorty' Andrews and Gary Clark Jr, whose style blends hip hop, contemporary soul and indie rock.

Also performing were Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks, with actress Taraji P. Henson as the program host and Booker T Jones as music director and band leader.

The blues concert was part of the 'In Performance at the White House' series that airs on PBS. It begins on Monday in celebration of Black History Month.

.American classics: Shemekia Copeland (left) and Susan Tedeschi (right) sing during a celebration of blues music where they were joined by the President himself for the finale

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