Queen Latifah isn't from the South but that doesn't mean she doesn't know a thing or two about Memphis Soul music. She, and a bunch of other performers, were all on hand for the White House celebration of Memphis Soul Tuesday night (April 9).
With President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and their two daughters sitting front and center, the New Jersey native hosted and sang at the latest installment of the "In Performance at the White House" series.
Last night's concert was the 10th of its kind held since Obama took office, and his excitement was clear. "Let's face it, who does not love music?" he asked, addressing the audience in the White House East Room. "The songs on the dance floor, they get stuck in our heads. We go back over them again and again. And they've played an important part in our history."
Speaking to the history of Memphis music in particular, during segregation in the '60s Blacks and whites in the Southern city sidestepped racial barriers with music, uniting to create what Obama called "a little harmony with harmony."
"They weren't allowed to go to school together. They weren't always allowed to travel or eat together, but no one could stop them from playing music together," the president said.
Sam Moore (of the soul duo Sam & Dave), Ben Harper, Marvis Staples, American Idol finalist Joshua Ledet and Justin Timberlake were among those who performed. Timberlake closed the night out with a rendition of Otis Redding's "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay."
PBS will air the concert next Tuesday (April 16).
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(Photo: Martin H. Simon-Pool/Getty Images)