Tuesday 23 January 2018

Obama sings the White House blues

Barack Obama welcomes guests during a White House event saluting blues music (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Barack Obama welcomes guests during a White House event saluting blues music (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

US President Barack Obama was left singing the blues with artists including Mick Jagger after a night of music at the White House.

The East Room of the White House was transformed into an intimate blues club for a concert featuring blues all-stars of the past, present and future - and the president himself.

The surprise performance by Mr Obama came at the end of the playlist when the blues ensemble was singing Sweet Home Chicago, the blues anthem of Mr Obama's home town.

Buddy Guy prodded the president, saying he had heard that Mr Obama sang part of an Al Green tune recently, and adding: "You gotta keep it up."

Then Jagger handed over the mic, and Mr Obama seemed compelled to comply. "Come on, baby don't you want to go," the president sang out twice, before handing off the mic to BB King momentarily, and then taking it back to tack on Sweet Home Chicago at the end.

That was how Mr Obama ended the night.

"This music speaks to something universal," Mr Obama declared. "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."

King, 86, arrived in a wheelchair but rose tall to kick off the night with a raucous Let the Good Times Roll, quickly joined by other members of the ensemble. And he followed with The Thrill is Gone. From there, Mr Obama and his wife, Michelle, were swaying in their seats and singing along to an all-hits playlist including St James Infirmary and Let Me Love You.

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

The long-time Rolling Stones frontman delivered on I Can't Turn You Loose and then teamed up with Beck on Commit a Crime. Jagger got the President and his wife up 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.

Press Association

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