White House celebrates the sounds of Memphis soul

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama said he’d been looking forward to a White House celebration of Memphis soul music for one reason. “Let’s face it, who does not love this music?” he asked Tuesday, opening the night’s concert in an East Room bathed in amber light and transformed by the addition of a stage and backup musicians. “These songs get us on the dance floor,” Obama said. “They get stuck in our heads. We go back over them again and again. And they’ve played an important part in our history.” Memphis was segregated in the 1960s, but blacks and whites came together despite the institutional racism to create a soulful blend of gospel and rhythmic blues music that sought to “bridge those divides, to create a little harmony with harmony,” Obama said. He noted that two of the night’s guests, Booker T. Jones and Steve Cropper,helped form one of the city’s first integrated bands. The program is set to be broadcast next Tuesday by PBS stations nationwide.