WASHINGTON, D.C. — “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues” is a PBS special taped in the East Room of the White House celebrating Blues music. President and Mrs. Obama will host the concert event on Tuesday, February 21 in recognition of Black History Month. The evening will include program host Taraji P. Henson and performances by Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews, Jeff Beck, Gary Clark, Jr., Shemekia Copeland, Buddy Guy, Warren Haynes, Mick Jagger, B.B. King, Keb Mo, Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks, 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 The GRAMMY Museum®, AEG Ehrlich Ventures and the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC). The television special is part of the Emmy Award-nominated PBS “In Performance at the White House” series and will premiere Monday, February 27 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings).
“In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues” will honor the musical form that sprang from the Mississippi Delta and flourished in the Westside of Chicago with deep roots in Africa and slavery. The performances will explore those roots and pay homage to the great figures of the Blues and the songs they made famous by tracing the influence of the Blues on modern American music from soul to rock’n’roll. 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 forty-eighth production of the WETA ‘In Performance at the White House’ series and continues to demonstrate how public broadcasting brings rich cultural experiences to a wide audience.”
“The Blues are not only the most American of art forms, but the fundamental inspiration for some of the most important artists of our generation,” said Paula A. Kerger, president and CEO of PBS. “Since 1978, ‘In Performance at the White House’ has spotlighted some of our nation’s best performers, and celebrated our nation’s heritage. The upcoming special on the Blues continues in this tradition and celebrates music born out of struggle that touches the soul and inspires the mind and holds a unique place in American arts.”
“The quintessentially American tradition of the Blues, which combines African roots with New World sensibilities, speaks eloquently to our unique history as Americans, reaching back to the founding of this nation during a time of slavery. It is an honor to bring the songs and great performers of the Blues to the White House and to the American public in a broadcast during Black History Month,” commented Jacquie Jones, executive director of the National Black Programming Consortium (NPBC).
“This concert at the White House celebrates the musical contributions that the Blues have made to our culture,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “Through public media, all Americans are able to explore and experience this unique part of our country’s heritage.”
Educational Program with the White House
In addition to the evening concert, the afternoon of the concert taping the White House will host “At the Crossroads: A History of the Blues in America,” an educational workshop for middle and high school students from across the country, held in the State Dining Room. The event will be produced by The GRAMMY Museum® and led by Robert Santelli, executive director of The GRAMMY Museum®. Santelli is a leading musicologist and music educator who will give the participating students an overview of the origins of the Blues, discuss important artists from throughout its history, and cover the genre’s evolution from African American spirituals and work songs to its influence on the chart-topping hits of today. Santelli will be joined by special musical guests who will share their experiences as well as answer students’ questions. The White House “At the Crossroads: A History of the Blues in America” workshop will be streamed live on www.whitehouse.gov/live, www.pbs.org/whitehouse and www.blackpublicmedia.org.
“At the Crossroads: A History of the Blues in America” will be accompanied by a broader educational program, also developed by The GRAMMY Museum®, consisting of visits to Greater Washington-area institutions and a special student press conference where student journalists will be able to question production staff for articles in their school’s newspapers. In addition, The GRAMMY Museum® will offer downloadable curriculum and educational materials for middle and high school teachers, available at www.grammymuseum.org and www.pbs.org/whitehouse. This is the fourth educational workshop at the White House that The GRAMMY Museum® has organized, in cooperation with the “In Performance at the White House” concert series.
“In Performance at the White House” Series
“In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues” will be the eighth “In Performance at the White House” program during President Barack Obama’s administration. From February 2009 to the most recent broadcast in November 2011, these latest “In Performance at the White House” events have honored the musical genius of Stevie Wonder and Sir Paul McCartney; celebrated Hispanic musical heritage during Hispanic Heritage Month; marked Black History Month with events featuring the music from the Civil Rights Movement and Motown; explored the rich roots and resiliency of Country music; and spotlighted Broadway and the unique spirit of the American musical. The star-studded line-ups have included Marc Anthony, Tony Bennett, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan, Jamie Foxx, José Feliciano, Dave Grohl, Herbie Hancock, Faith Hill, Jennifer Hudson, Jonas Brothers, Alison Krauss Nathan Lane, John Legend, Eva Longoria, Lyle Lovett, Audra McDonald, Idina Menzel, Smokey Robinson, Darius Rucker, Seal, Jerry Seinfeld, Esperanza Spalding, Elaine Stritch, James Taylor and Jack White.
“In Performance at the White House” has been produced by WETA since 1978 and spans every administration since President Carter’s. The series began with an East Room recital by the legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz. Since then, “In Performance at the White House” has embraced virtually every genre of American performance: pop, country, gospel, jazz, theatre and dance among them. The series was created to showcase the rich fabric of American culture in the setting of the nation’s most famous home. Past programs have showcased such talent as cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, dancer/choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov, popular music singers Linda Ronstadt and Alison Krauss, the United States Marine Band, soul and jazz singers Natalie Cole and Aretha Franklin, leading Broadway performers, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem.
“In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues” Production
“In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues” is a production of WETA Washington, D.C., in association with The GRAMMY Museum®, AEG Ehrlich Ventures and the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC). The executive producers are Dalton Delan and David S. Thompson for WETA; and Ken Ehrlich, executive producer of The GRAMMY Awards®, and Robert Santelli, executive director of The GRAMMY Museum®, for AEG Ehrlich Ventures. The producer is Renato Basile. The program director is Louis J. Horvitz. The music director is Booker T. Jones. The “In Performance at the White House” series was created by WETA Washington, D.C. The series producer is Jackson Frost. Foundation support is provided by The Annenberg Foundation and the Anne Ray Charitable Trust. Major funding is also provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and public television viewers.
For more information about “In Performance at the White House: Red, White and Blues” visit www.pbs.org/whitehouse. An electronic press kit, including downloadable talent photos for promotional use, is available at pressroom.pbs.org. To follow “In Performance at the White House” on Twitter, use hashtag #PBSipwh.
WETA Washington, D.C., is the third-largest producing station for public television. WETA’s other productions and co-productions include “PBS NewsHour,” “Washington Week with Gwen Ifill and National Journal,” “The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize” and documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns, including the premiere this fall of “The Dust Bowl.” More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org.
The GRAMMY Museum® pays tribute to music’s rich cultural history. This one-of-a-kind, 21st-century Museum explores and celebrates the enduring legacies of all forms of music, the creative process, the art and technology of the recording process, and the history of the premier recognition of excellence in recorded music — the GRAMMY Award. The GRAMMY Museum® features 30,000 square feet of interactive and multimedia exhibits located within L.A. LIVE, the downtown Los Angeles sports, entertainment and residential district. Through thought-provoking and dynamic public and educational programs and exhibits, guests will experience music from a never-before-seen insider perspective that only The GRAMMY Museum® can deliver. More information is available at www.grammymuseum.org.
AEG Ehrlich Ventures is led by Ken Ehrlich, and is a division of AEG, one of the leading sports and entertainment presenters in the world. For more than 25 years, no individual has produced more music related and non-traditional programming for television, as well as single and multi-artist and concept specials for network, cable, syndication and home video programming than Ken Ehrlich. With hundreds of hours of highly acclaimed specials to his credit, from the annual GRAMMY Awards®, which he has produced since 1980, to a yearly slate of award shows including his fifth and most recent Emmy Awards show in 2008, Ehrlich’s credits are unmatched. Ken began his career with public broadcaster WTTW in Chicago, creating and producing the seminal music series “Soundstage.” More recently for public broadcasting, he co-produced “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement” in 2010, which had the White House debut of Bob Dylan. More information is available at www.aegworldwide.com.
The National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) was founded in 1979 and is dedicated to developing black digital authorship and distributing unique stories of the black experience in the new media age. Since 1991 NBPC has invested more than $7 million dollars in iconic documentary productions for public television; trained, mentored and supported a diverse array of producers who create content about contemporary black experiences; and emerged as a leader in the evolving next-media landscape. NBPC distributes engaging content online at BlackPublicMedia.org, and via broadcast through its AfroPoP: The Utimate Cultural Exchange documentary series; and facilitates the community engagement project Public Media Corps (PMC). More information is available at www.blackpublicmedia.org.
PBS, with its 356 member stations, offers all Americans — from every walk of life — the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches more than 124 million people on-air and online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; hear diverse viewpoints; and take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and Web site, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967 and is steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,100 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services. More information about CPB is available at www.cpb.org.
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