The White House hosts a Motown celebration in honor of Black History Month.
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 evening will include program host Jamie Foxx and performances by Foxx, Natasha Bedingfield, Sheryl Crow, the group Gloriana, Nick Jonas, Ledisi, John Legend, Amber Riley, Smokey Robinson, Mark Salling, Seal and Jordin Sparks. (Program subject to change.) 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. on WXXI-TV (DT21.1/cable 11/cable 1011). The program will also be broadcast on March 11 via the American Forces Network to American service men and women and civilians at U.S. Department of Defense locations around the world.
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.
“WETA is pleased to join the White House in celebrating such a distinctly American style of music,” noted Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA. “Our station continues a proud tradition of producing vibrant programs for the American public with this event, the forty-sixth production of the WETA ‘In Performance at the White House’ series.”
“We’re proud to bring the best of Motown into every American’s home,” said Paula A. Kerger, PBS president and CEO. “This special, together with our collection of Black History Month programming on PBS, reflects PBS’s longstanding commitment to showcasing our nation’s rich and diverse cultural heritage.”
“The Motown Sound transformed a whole generation musically, and its rich legacy continues to be felt today. To celebrate these songs and the original greats of Motown at the White House in an event during Black History Month is a wonderful tribute to the music beloved by so many,” commented Jacquie Jones, executive director of the National Black Programming Consortium, a production partner for the project.
“We are proud to support this program, the wonderful cultural impact of Motown, and the ‘In Performance at the White House’ series,” said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), a project funder. “CPB is committed to the development of diverse and innovative programming that inspires, educates, informs and entertains.
“The Motown Sound: In Performance at the White House” is a production of WETA Washington, D.C., in association with Bounce, a division of AEG, and the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC). The executive producers are Dalton Delan and David S. Thompson of WETA and Tim Swift of Bounce. The producer is Kristi Foley of Bounce. The program director is Leon Knoles. The music director is Greg Phillinganes. 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. Major funding is also provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, PBS and public television viewers.