Thursday night, in honor of Women’s History Month, President Obama held a event at the White House called “In Performance at the White House-Women of Soul”. Performances included Melissa Etheridge, Janelle Monae, Jill Scott and Tessanne Chin, whom collaborated on a soulful rendition of “Proud Mary. The event was not only for performances. A morning workshop was scheduled as well, in which Patti LaBelle, Etheridge and Monae shared stories and advice with the students, and engaged in singing inspirational songs together.
I would love to say the highlight of the evening was the great music. However, that isn’t true. Obama was reciting an honorary speech about the soul queen Aretha Franklin, when he made an unintentional mistake “When Aretha first told us what R-S-P-E-C-T meant to her she had no idea it would become a rallying cry for African-Americans and women”. Maybe it was the excitement from the event or he was tongue tied. Whatever the reason, the media will not let him forget it. The audience laughed, but Obama continued his speech without any hesitation. (The show must go on right?), CNN made a quick recovery of Obama’s slip up by stating “Obama wanted to throw us all, see if we were actually all paying attention”.
Michelle Obama expressed that she loves soul music because it brings out emotions and is universal. She quoted the legendary soul singer, Patti LaBelle, by stating “She had succeeded because she took chances and sang her butt off. Find your own voice and be proud of it. Then, sing your butt off. Or work your butt off. Or whatever you do, do it until your butt comes off”.
Then she added “OK, that quote is going to be kind of funny in the papers. I already know it. My communications people are like, `What?’ But you guys all know what I meant. Be good at what you do”. I couldn’t agree more. Great words of advice from the first lady.
The concert was live-streamed at the White House and will broadcast April 7 on PBS.