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Entries in Motown (2)

Friday
Feb252011

White House Honors Motown Legends

Photo Courtesy - The White House/Lawrence Jackson(WASHINGTON DC) -- The dancing wasn’t in the street Thursday night -- it was in the White House.

Berry Gordy, Smokey Robinson and Stevie Wonder came out to celebrate fifty years of rhythm and blues with a White House music night devoted to black history month and Motown’s effect on music and American history.

“Along the way, songs like ‘Dancing in the Streets’ and ‘What’s Going On’ became the soundtrack of the civil rights era,” President Obama said in the East Room of the White House. “Black artists began soaring to the top of the pop charts for the first time. And at concerts in the South, Motown groups literally brought people together –- insisting that the ropes traditionally used to separate black and white audience members be taken down.”

While the Motown greats sang the classics, the new era of singers -- Natasha Bedingfield, Sheryl Crow, Gloriana, Nick Jonas, Jordin Sparks and John Legend -- paid tribute to those who paved the way for them.

The president, and his dancing, were the brunt of some jokes.

“You are not going to dance with me -– I saw you on 'Ellen'!” MC of the night Jaime Foxx said to President Obama, impersonating his at times stiff dancing. “That definitely was not the black side of you right there.”

But in the end, the president still showed some of his own Motown moves, dancing with his daughter Sasha Obama for a brief moment during the finale, when all the performers sang “Dancing in the Streets."

Vice President Biden also wasn’t free from being the target of jokes.

“In the ‘60’s – how many of you remember the ‘60s?” Foxx said. “I know you remember the ‘60s,” Foxx said to Vice President Biden, “you remember the ‘30s, man.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio´╗┐

Thursday
Feb242011

Michelle Obama: As Motown Rose, So Did 'Forces of Change' in This Country

Photo Courtesy - The White House(WASHINGTON) -- Kicking off Motown day at the White House, first lady Michelle Obama said the lesson of Motown’s music is really a metaphor for life.

“Nobody’s name is printed on the 'Billboard Top 10' at birth,” Mrs. Obama said from the State Dining Room Thursday afternoon, adding, “With enough hard work and a willingness to take some risks, anyone can make it.”

Mrs. Obama spoke before a small group of music students from across the country with Motown greats Berry Gordy and Smokey Robinson by her side, who regaled the crowd with stories of their rise and the invention of the Motown sound.  The first lady joked that she too was a teenager once and remembers how it feels to have big dreams that sometimes seem far away. Current R&B artist John Legend was also at the event.

“I hope you realize through this experience that no one here is any different than you all are, whether that’s Smokey Robinson or John Legend or me or my husband, because we are all reflected in you.  We see ourselves in you,” the first lady said. “And that's what today is about.  It’s about the dreams of kids who grew up knowing that they had a song to sing, and that everyone will want to hear that song.”

Mrs. Obama spoke about what later Berry Gordy recalled himself, how he was a young man in Detroit with a big idea -- to be one of the first African-Americans to own a record label. But beyond just Gordy’s rise, Mrs. Obama said that Motown made music for all people -- no matter what you looked like, or where you came from, helping to “pave the way” for people to look at each other differently.

“And as Motown rose, so did the forces of change in this country,” Mrs. Obama said, “During that time, it was the time of King and Kennedy, it was a time of marches and rallies and groundbreaking civil rights laws.  And Motown’s music was so much more than just a soundtrack.  It was a heartbeat....It was a change that happened.  Something changed when teenagers turned up the volume on the Temptations song, no matter where they lived, in Birmingham or Boston, in Detroit or Denver.  “

Thursday evening the Obamas are hosting a Motown concert at the White House, celebrating Motown’s history and Black History Month.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio ´╗┐







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