Watch Friday, January 8, 2016 at 9pm on WMHT TV
“A Celebration of American Creativity: In Performance at the White House” is a PBS music special 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. Taping October 14, 2015, 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 (program subject to change). These performances will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act that was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 29, 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 program, part of the Emmy Award-nominated “In Performance at the White House” series, is the fifty-fifth production in the series’ thirty-seven year history. “A Celebration of American Creativity: In Performance at the White House” will premiere Friday, January 8, 2016 at 9pm on WMHT, as part of PBS Arts.
“It is a great privilege to join the White House in honoring 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.”
“This special evening, shared with the nation from the White House, will embody an aspect of President Johnson’s vision of a ‘Great Society’ that embraces cultural activity to advance our civilization,” noted Mark K. Updegrove, director of the LBJ Presidential Library. “We are proud of this opportunity to honor what President Johnson established fifty years ago and to celebrate the artistic creativity that has blossomed over the years due to the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.”
“Throughout our history, public television has brought some of the greatest performers of our time to a national stage. No matter where you live, you have a front row seat to extraordinary performances. ‘In Performance at the White House’ continues to spotlight some of the best of our collective artistic heritage, celebrating the diversity and creativity of our great nation,” said Paula A. Kerger, president and CEO of PBS.
“The diverse and rich cultural traditions of our country will be on display in this remarkable concert,” said William D. Adams, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). “The NEH is very proud of its extensive efforts to make those traditions accessible to the American people, from our work in preserving important music recordings to our support for scholarship in the history of American music.”
“America is recognized throughout the world as a place where the size of your dreams is limited only by your imagination,” said Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). “This White House performance is testament to the dreams and artistry that have allowed our cultural landscape to flourish, and to bloom so vibrantly. ‘In Performance at the White House’ is a wonderful way to celebrate the ways in which the arts and humanities nourish our nation’s creativity, inspire dreams, and encourage self-expression.”