President Obama’s Favorite Musicians Play His Backyard


The fifth International Jazz Day All-Star Global Concert took place on the White House’s South Lawn on Friday, featuring performances from giants Herbie Hancock and Aretha Franklin alongside an all-star band made up of musicians from around the world.

President Obama gave a speech welcoming the UNESCO concert back to the US. He celebrated the “all around cool cat” Hancock; shared an anecdote about Gillespie’s little-known presidential bid, when he ran on a platform that included switching the name of our nation’s seat of power to “the Blues House;” and discussed the particularly American voice of jazz:

[Jazz] is, in so many ways, the story of our nation’s progress: Born out of the struggle of African-Americans yearning for freedom. Forged in a crucible of cultures — a product of the diversity that would forever define our nation’s greatness.

Watch a full video of his celebration of our country’s “greatest contribution” to the world here.

The performances were mind-blowing, as you can imagine. Many other incredible artists joined those listed above, and Aretha included a tribute to Prince’s “Purple Rain” around the hour mark. Check out the full concert below.

Liz Wood is a freelance editor, fiction writer, and current student in the NYU MFA program. More from this author →