White House readies American music TV special


Michelle Clancy

| 11 October 2015

The White House has announced the line-up for its upcoming PBS music special.

A Celebration of American Creativity: In Performance at the White House will be taped in the East Room of the White House. President and Mrs. Obama will host the all-star music tribute celebrating the cultural resonance of art and literature in unique American musical forms. The evening includes performances by Buddy Guy, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Audra McDonald, Keb’ Mo’, Smokey Robinson, Trombone Shorty, Esperanza Spalding, Brian Stokes Mitchell, James Taylor and Usher, with special readings and remarks from Carol Burnett.

The performances commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Foundation of the Arts and the Humanities Act that was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. The act called for the creation of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) as separate, independent agencies, the culmination of a movement calling for the federal government to invest in culture.

The event will also mark the first hip-hop performance in the In Performance at the White House broadcast series. The song selections for the evening will draw from American-originated musical genres, including hip-hop, blues and the American Songbook. The hour-long programme is the the 55th production in the series’ 37-year history.

A Celebration of American Creativity: In Performance at the White House will premiere on 8 January, 2016 on PBS stations nationwide and online at the White House website.

“It is a great privilege to join the White House in honouring the importance of humanities and arts to our nation’s culture,” said Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA, the flagship public broadcaster in the nation’s capital that is co-producing the special. “Our long-running series In Performance at the White House showcases American creativity as expressed through music for the American people.”