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Our Favorite Musical Moments at the White House

Sometimes, the President and First Lady host world-class musicians for jam sessions at the White House. Tonight is one of those nights.

Every once in awhile, the President and First Lady host a jam session at the White House for musicians and artists. This “In Performance at the White House” series draws talent from all musical genres and celebrates the many and varied musical traditions in America.

Tonight, at 7:25 pm ET, catch the latest “In Performance: A Celebration of American Creativity” this time, featuring 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.

Catch the airing of the full show in January on PBS. Check out some of our favorite backstage moments from the In Performance series below:

Backstage with Susan Tedeschi & Derek Trucks 


Celebrating the Gospel Tradition


Backstage with John Legend


Backstage with Dierks Bentley


Memphis Soul featuring Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite

And that was the spirit of their music — the sound of Soulsville, U.S.A., a music that, at its core, is about the pain of being alone, the power of human connection, and the importance of treating each other right. After all, this is the music that asked us to try a little tenderness. It’s the music that put Mr. Big Stuff in his place. (Laughter.) And it’s the music that challenged us to accept new ways of thinking with four timeless words: “Can you dig it?” —President Obama; May 2, 2013

Backstage with Keb' Mo'

This is music with humble beginnings — roots in slavery and segregation, a society that rarely treated black Americans with the dignity and respect that they deserved. The blues bore witness to these hard times. And like so many of the men and women who sang them, the blues refused to be limited by the circumstances of their birth. —President Obama; February 27, 2012

President Obama spontaneously sings “Sweet Home Chicago”

Check out more musical moments at