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In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul

A PBS music special taped in the East Room of the White House hosted by President and Mrs. Obama, celebrating the timeless classics of Memphis Soul. The all-star concert honors the memorable soul sounds from the mid- to late-1960s that came from Memphis, Tennessee and legendary labels like Stax-Volt Records, which featured artists such as Al Green, Mavis Staples, Carla Thomas, Otis Redding and many more. The evening pays homage to Memphis, a segregated city in the 1960s where many whites and blacks nonetheless came together to make soulful music, a mix of gospel and potent rhythmic grooves — known today as “Memphis Soul.”

Participating Artists (As of 4/1/13) 

Alabama Shakes
William Bell
Steve Cropper
Al Green
Ben Harper
Queen Latifah
Cyndi Lauper
Joshua Ledet
Sam Moore
Charlie Musselwhite
Mavis Staples
Justin Timberlake
Booker T. Jones (Music Director and Band Leader)

“In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul” is a PBS music special taped in the East Room of the White House, celebrating the timeless classics of Memphis Soul.  President and Mrs. Obama will host the event on Tuesday, April 9.  The all-star concert will include performances by Alabama Shakes, William Bell, Steve Cropper, Al Green, Ben Harper, Queen Latifah, Cyndi Lauper, Joshua Ledet, Sam Moore, Charlie Musselwhite, Mavis Staples and Justin Timberlake, with Booker T. Jones as music director and band leader. (Program subject to change.)  The sixty-minute television special is produced by WETA Washington, D.C., the flagship public broadcaster in the nation’s capital, in association with AEG Ehrlich Ventures, The GRAMMY Museum® and the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC).  The program is part of the Emmy Award-nominated PBS “In Performance at the White House” series and will premiere Tuesday, April 16 at 8 p.m. ET on WMHT TV.

“In Performance at the White House: Memphis Soul” will honor the memorable soul sounds from the mid- to late-1960s that came from Memphis, Tennessee and legendary labels like Stax-Volt Records, that featured artists such as Al Green, Mavis Staples, Carla Thomas, Otis Redding and many more. The evening pays homage to Memphis, a segregated city in the 1960s where many whites and blacks nonetheless came together to make soulful music, a mix of gospel and potent rhythmic grooves — known today as “Memphis Soul.”

This event, including the President’s remarks, will be available for press via the White House Press Corps pool feed and streamed live on www.whitehouse.gov/live, www.pbs.org/whitehouse and www.blackpublicmedia.org.  The program will also be broadcast at a later date via the American Forces Network to American service men and women and civilians at U.S. Department of Defense locations around the world.

“It is our ongoing delight to bring this concert series to the American people in collaboration with the White House,” noted Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA.  “This event marks the fiftieth production of the WETA ‘In Performance at the White House’ series. Through this series we continue to demonstrate how public broadcasting is focused on preserving our most treasured values, which are history and culture.”

“Memphis Soul music spans generations of Americans who find the gospel-rooted vocals and infectious melodies as memorable today as when they were first heard in the 1960s,” said Paula A. Kerger, president and CEO of PBS.  “This is an important part of our cultural history that we are proud to highlight as part of ‘In Performance at the White House.’”

“The musical form of Memphis Soul had the power to bring together races in the segregated American South of the 1960s, and it is a testament to those songs that we celebrate them now at the White House,” commented Jacquie Jones, executive director of the National Black Programming Consortium (NPBC), who herself grew up in Memphis.  “We are honored to bring this Memphis Soul music to the American public through public broadcasting.”

“We are pleased to support ‘In Performance at the White House’ and celebrate the cultural influence of Memphis Soul on the American music landscape,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  “Through public media that informs, educates, inspires, and entertains, we are delighted to bring this unique part of our country’s heritage to the local communities we serve.”

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