He bobbled the spelling, but President Barack Obama had nothing but R-E-S-P-E-C-T for the “women of soul” who shook and rattled the rafters of the White House on Thursday night.
“What a lineup!” Obama declared at the outset of a concert that featured a generations-spanning array of soul singers that stretched from musical legends Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle to 20-year-old Ariana Grande.
Obama paid tribute to Franklin for turning her signature song “Respect” into “a rallying cry for African-Americans, women and then everyone who felt marginalized.”
The pumped-up audience gave a hearty laugh but was more than willing to forgive the president for spelling it “R-S-P-E-C-T.”
First up in the East Room lineup was LaBelle, with a thundering delivery of “Over the Rainbow” that had the audience on its feet.
It was a mutual admiration society of sorts as LaBelle thanked the Obamas for their tenure in the White House, declaring, “Baby, you got swag!”
The emotional high point came when Franklin, 71, sauntered in, gave a shimmy and declared “Let’s have a party.” Then she went right into “I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You).” She was back later to close down the show with what Obama called “one more treat” – a slow, soulful rendition of “Amazing Grace” that turned rowdy at the end.
Lambert to front reunited Queen
Queen will embark on a summer tour with Adam Lambert as its frontman.
The iconic band announced Thursday on “Good Morning America” that the 19-date U.S. tour kicks off June 19 in Chicago. It wraps up July 20 in Washington, D.C.
Lambert first performed with Queen in 2009 when he was a contestant on “American Idol,” where he placed second. The band and Lambert have since performed together, including last year’s iHeartRadio Music Festival in Las Vegas. They sang such hits as “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You.”
Queen frontman Freddie Mercury died in 1991.
Berklee College honors Belafonte
Boston’s Berklee College of Music has presented an honorary doctor of music degree to singer, songwriter and activist Harry Belafonte. The entertainer was honored Thursday night during a concert in his honor.
Berklee students and faculty performed the celebration of Belafonte’s life and music, from “Banana Boat Song” to “We Are The World.”
Belafonte was a confidant of Martin Luther King Jr. during the civil rights movement. In the 1980s he helped start the USA for Africa project to fight hunger, and also pushed for an end to apartheid in South Africa.
The birthday bunch
TV personality Willard Scott is 80. Actor Daniel J. Travanti is 74. Actor John Heard is 68. Rock singer Peter Wolf is 68. Actor Bryan Cranston is 58. Singer-actress Taylor Dayne is 52. Comedian Wanda Sykes is 50. Actor Peter Sarsgaard is 43. Actress Rachel Weisz is 43. Actress Jenna Fischer is 40. Actress Actress Laura Prepon is 34.
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