“The Motown Sound: In Performance at the White House” is a PBS music special in the East Room of the White House. President and Mrs. Obama will host the event on Thursday, February 24 in celebration of Black History Month and the legacy of Motown, the distinctive soul-infused pop music sound, style and presentation that was born in Detroit and embodied by the Motown Records label. The sixty-minute television special, part of the Emmy Award-nominated PBS “In Performance at the White House” series, will premiere Tuesday, March 1 at 8 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide. (Check local listings.) The all-star tribute to the legendary Motown Sound will include stars from the Motown Records label’s golden age and performances by artists of today who have been influenced by Motown and its powerful legacy. Celebrating a 50th anniversary last year, the Motown Records label was devised by music entrepreneur Berry Gordy and launched an historic cultural shift in the racial integration of popular music, with crossover hits and artists such as Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross and The Supremes, Smokey Robinson, Mary Wells, The Four Tops and many others.
(As of 2/16/11)
A GRAMMY Award-nominated singer/songwriter, Bedingfield’s debut album, Unwritten, debuted at number one on the UK album chart and sold over two million copies worldwide. The album garnered Bedingfield her first GRAMMY Award nomination, for “Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.” Bedingfield’s new album, Strip Me, reminds the public of the gift she has for creating heartfelt, dynamic pop anthems. Strip Me is the follow-up to her sophomore disc, Pocketful of Sunshine, a megahit in the U.S. selling more than three million singles of the title track.
Free-spirited, fearless and fierce, Crow has garnered nine GRAMMY Awards, performed duets with musical luminaries, sold more than 35 million records worldwide, and is a cancer survivor and passionate humanitarian. In 2010, Crow unveiled her soul stylings on her seventh studio set 100 Miles From Memphis, influenced by the irresistible soul sounds she grew up listening to. Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye have all shaped the artist Sheryl Crow is today. Crow is also a passionate supporter of a variety of environmental and health-related charities.
An Academy award-winning actor and gifted GRAMMY Award-winning musical artist and comedian, Foxx is one of Hollywood’s elite multi-faceted performers. Foxx just released his fourth album, Best Night of My Life. He will next appear in the Fox animated film, Rio, as well as in the film Horrible Bosses for Warner Brothers later this year. Foxx is also executive producing a new sketch comedy series for Fox TV that will premiere in June 2011.
This group has become one of country music’s hottest young acts. Gloriana is comprised of Tom Gossin, Mike Gossin, Rachel Reinert and Cheyenne Kimball, who perfectly capture soaring four-part harmonies that yield comparisons with the Eagles and Fleetwood Mac. The band has won several fan-voted awards, including “Breakthrough Artist of the Year” at the 2009 American Music Awards and the 2010 Academy of Country Music Award for “Top New Vocal Group of the Year.” Gloriana also works to further education for students in its partnership with the “Milk Rocks!” campaign.
An American singer, songwriter, musician, actor and dancer, Nick Jonas is widely known as a member of the band the Jonas Brothers. He has been singing from a young age and has starred in several Broadway musicals including Beauty and the Beast and A Christmas Carol. Jonas Brothers are a true global powerhouse, selling out arenas and winning awards around the world. Nick Jonas is the founder of The Nicholas Jonas Change For The Children Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to the needs of abused, homeless, and terminally-ill children.
A four-time GRAMMY Award nominee, Ledisi is known for her powerhouse vocals, captivating stage presence and unstoppable energy. Born in New Orleans, she began her career with the city’s symphony orchestra at age eight. Ledisi later moved West where she formed a band, built a following and released her own records. In 2007, she released her first solo album, Lost & Found, to critical acclaim. She released Turn Me Loose, which went number one on Billboard’s R&B chart, in 2009. Ledisi’s new album will be released this summer.
This American recording artist, musician, actor and social activist is the recipient of nine GRAMMY Awards, and was named to the 2009 TIME 100 list of the world’s most influential people. His work includes collaborations with artists including Kanye West, Alicia Keys and Jay-Z. Legend’s latest album, Wake Up!, is a collaboration with The Roots featuring an homage to the soulful music of the ‘60s and ‘70s. In 2007, Legend founded the “Show Me Campaign,” a grassroots movement dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty.
An actor and musician, Riley stars as “Mercedes Jones,” a powerhouse vocalist with diva attitude on FOX’s hit musical television comedy GLEE. The series has quickly become a pop-culture phenomenon, and earned such honors as a Peabody Award, Golden Globes and a Screen Actors Guild Award. Riley was recently nominated for an individual NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy series. She currently serves are an Ambassador for VH-1’s Save the Music Foundation and is a member of Seventeen Magazine’s Body Peace Council.
Legendary singer, songwriter and producer Robinson’s honey-coated voice connects with listeners in a highly personal way. This Motown legend has earned 37 Top 40 hits during his career, in 1988 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, in 1991 received the Soul Train Music Award for Career Achievement, in 1999 the GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award, and was a 2005 Songwriters Hall of Fame honoree and a 2006 Kennedy Center honoree. His latest album, Now and Then, was released in 2010 and was nominated this year for an NAACP Image Award.
An actor and musician, Salling is widely known for his character “Noah ‘Puck’ Puckerman” on the award-winning television series GLEE. Salling attended the Los Angeles Music Academy College of Music, studying guitar. He is also a classically trained pianist and plays the bass and drums. Prior to starring on GLEE, Salling appeared in national commercials and starred in films. In late 2010, Salling released a rock/jazz album inspired by Alice in Chains, Nine Inch Nails, Miles Davis and Trent Reznor, titled Pipe Dreams.
This multi-platinum artist has countless accolades, including three GRAMMY Awards and more than 20 million albums sold worldwide. In 2008, Seal released his sixth studio album, Soul. Produced by the legendary David Foster, Soul is a compilation of the best classic soul songs ever — created with Seal’s signature touch. The album of covers topped charts globally and featured the Sam Cooke Civil Rights ballad “A Change is Gonna Come.” His latest album is Commitment (2010).
A GRAMMY-Award nominated, platinum-selling recording artist, Sparks is the youngest winner of American Idol. Her self-titled debut and sophomore album, Battlefield, feature the chart-topping hits “Tattoo,” “No Air” and “One Step At A Time.” Sparks has won two BET Awards, an American Music Award, and been nominated for a GRAMMY Award. In 2010, Sparks made her Broadway debut in the Tony Award-winning musical In The Heights. Philanthropically, Sparks is also known for her project, the “I'm M.A.D. Are You?” campaign.
Greg Phillinganes, Music Director
A native of Detroit, Phillinganes is one of the world’s most prolific keyboard artists. His music career began in 1975 with Stevie Wonder as part of the Wonderlove band. Since 1979, Phillinganes has gone on to record, perform, tour and/or write with a staggering array of GRAMMY Award-winning artists, including Quincy Jones, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Ray Charles, Mick Jagger, Usher and Diana Ross. Among his music director credits, Phillinganes led Lionel Richie and Michael Jackson’s first solo tours and The 60th EMMY Awards.