"We're here to celebrate the power of words and music to help us appreciate beauty but also to understand pain. To inspire us to action and to sear us on when we start to lose hope. To lift us up out of our daily existence, even if it's just for a few moments."
Both the President and First Lady have a wide range of music tastes. It has been said that artists like Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Rolling Stones, Earth, Wind, & Fire and even mainstream Rap artists like Lil Wayne and Nas can be found on Barack's iPod while Rihanna, Beyonce, Usher, Robin Thicke, Sara Bareilles, Herbie Hancock, and Anthony David can be found on Michelle's. Their love for music doesn't stop on their iPods as it has also been reflected in the musical guests they have invited over the years to The White House for several events.
Last month, by the request of the Obamas, Janelle Monae performed during a state dinner to honor South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. Surprisingly, The Obamas are huge Monae fans and even requested her to perform their favorite song Tightrope.
Others that performed during state dinners were Jazz pianist Herbie Hancock and Beyonce are also others that have been asked to perform for state dinner.
Evening of Poetry, Music and Spoken Word Events
In 2009, Grammy-award winning artist Esperanza Spalding performed for the second time at The White House for "An Evening of Poetry, Music and the Spoken Word"
Also, click here to view her first White House performance earlier that year during a tribute for Stevie Wonder.
For another poetry event, Michelle invited conscious rapper Common who recited some lines amidst piano accompaniment in front of an audience of children and adults. View his performance here. Obama states "...a great poem is one that resonates with us and challenges us and teaches us something about ourselves." Remember the controversy this caused when people like Sarah Palin classified him as a "gangsta rapper" and didn't think his attendance was appropriate?
The White House Music Series
In 2009, the Obamas introduced The White House Music Series to support the arts and demonstrate the importance of arts education in America. Through this series, many genres of music were highlighted:
The Jazz Studio (2009) - Students from schools across the country got opportunity to learn from, and interact with Jazz greats as well as learn about the broader history of Jazz and its African-American roots. "...there's probably no better example of democracy than a jazz ensemble: individual freedom, but with responsibility to the group" said by the First Lady
A Country Music Celebration (2009) - Country artists Alison Krauss, Brad Paisley and Charley Pride were among those in attendance. President Obama stated “I know folks think I’m a city boy, but I do appreciate listening to country music,” “It’s about folks telling their life story the best way."
Fiesta Latina (2009) - In celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month, some of the country's most popular Latin artists performed like Sheila E, Gloria Estefan, Jose Feliciano, Mark Anthony and Los Lobos. Click here to view the event.
An Evening of Classical Music (2009) - The festivities included a concert featuring violinist Joshua Bell, guitarist Sharon Isbin, cellist Alisa Weilerstein, and pianist Awadagin Pratt. Click here to view all amazing performances.
Celebrating Music from the Civil Rights Movement (2010) - Held during Black History Month, artists like John Legend, Seal, Jamie Foxx, Sheryl Crow, Nick Jonas, Smokey Robinson, and Nathalie Cole performed songs. Click here to view the show in its entirety. Barack called the music from that time period "the soundtrack of the civil rights era."
A Broadway Celebration (2010) - "Over the years, musicals have also been at the forefront of our social consciousness, challenging stereotypes, shaping our opinions about race and religion, death and disease, power and politics" said Obama. Selections from American musicals were performed by artists like Nathan Lane, Idina Menzel, Audra McDonald, Tonya Pinkins, and Karen Olivo. Click here for an overview of the event.