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PBS Carries a Country Tune with Broadcast Special from the White House

Latest From Emmy Award-Nominated “In Performance at the White House” Series Features Dierks Bentley, Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson, Darius Rucker James Taylor and More, Airing November 23

WASHINGTON, D.C. — “Country Music: 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 Monday, November 21 in celebration of Country music, whose roots run deep throughout American history.   The evening will include performances by Lauren Alaina, The Band Perry, Dierks Bentley, Alison Krauss, Kris Kristofferson, Lyle Lovett, Mickey, Darius Rucker and James Taylor.  (Program subject to change.)  The concert will honor the rich history and resilience of this uniquely American musical form with performances tracing the history of Country music.  The sixty-minute television special, part of the Emmy Award-nominated PBS “In Performance at the White House” series, will premiere Wednesday, November 23 at 8 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings).  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.

This event, including the President’s remarks, will be available for press via the White House Press Corps pool feed and streamed on www.whitehouse.gov and www.pbs.org/whitehouse.

“WETA is proud to bring this concert to the American people in collaboration with the White House,” noted Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA.  “This event marks the forty-seventh production of the WETA ‘In Performance at the White House’ series and it is our continuing delight to share these rich cultural experiences with the wide public television viewing audience.”

“At PBS, we’re committed to bringing the best of the arts, history and culture home to our audiences,” 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 spotlight on Country music will be a wonderful opportunity to celebrate and enjoy a unique slice of American history and culture.”

“Harlan Howard, who wrote many Country music songs that are now classics, said, ‘Country music is three chords and the truth.’  This performance at the White House will celebrate the contribution of Country music to American life, and through public media enable all Americans to tap into their heritage,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

In addition to the evening concert, the afternoon of the concert taping the White House will host “The History of Country Music: From Barn Dances to Pop Charts,” an educational workshop for middle and high school students 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 a brief overview of the history and cultural significance of Country music — from “barn dances” to the Great Depression — and how Country music has evolved and crossed over to today’s pop charts.  Santelli will be joined by some of the artists from the evening concert, who will share their personal experiences of Country music and answer students’ questions.  The White House “The History of Country Music” workshop will be streamed live on www.whitehouse.gov and www.grammymuseum.org.

“Country Music: In Performance at the White House” will be the seventh “In Performance at the White House” program during President Barack Obama’s administration.  Spanning from February 2009 to the most recent broadcast in February 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; 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, Nathan Lane, John Legend, Eva Longoria, Audra McDonald, Idina Menzel, Smokey Robinson, Seal, Jerry Seinfeld, Esperanza Spalding, Elaine Stritch 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, blues, 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, jazz pianist and composer Thelonious Monk, the United States Marine Band, soul and jazz singers Natalie Cole and Aretha Franklin, leading Broadway performers, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

“Country Music: In Performance at the White House” is a production of WETA Washington, D.C., in association with Bounce, a division of AEG.  The executive producers are Dalton Delan and David S. Thompson.  The producers are Tim Swift and Kristi Foley.  The program director is Leon Knoles.  The music director is Steve Gibson.  The “In Performance at the White House” series was created by WETA Washington, D.C.  The series producer is Jackson Frost.  Corporate funding for the program is provided by Pepsi-Cola.  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 “Country Music: In Performance at the White House” visit www.pbs.org/whitehouse.  An electronic press kit, including downloadable talent photos for promotional use, is available at pressroom.pbs.org.

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.  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.

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 115 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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Kate Kelly
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Carrie Johnson
cjohnson@pbs.org