PBS Special Airing February 11 Features Leading Performers and a Civil Rights Movement Educational Program for Youth

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Artists have been announced for “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement,” a PBS music special in the White House East Room that WETA will produce in association with The GRAMMY Museum®, AEG Ehrlich Ventures and the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC).  President and Mrs. Obama will host the concert event in honor of Black History Month.  Artists include Natalie Cole, Bob Dylan, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Smokey Robinson, Seal, the Blind Boys of Alabama and the Howard University Choir.  Morgan Freeman and Queen Latifah will serve as emcees.  Additional artists may be announced in the coming days.  The music special, part of the PBS “In Performance at the White House” series, will be taped live by WETA Washington, D.C., on February 10 and air on February 11 at 8 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings).

The evening will feature songs from the Civil Rights Movement performed by these top entertainers, as well as readings from famous Civil Rights speeches and writings.  This event, including the President’s remarks, will be available for press via the White House Press Corps pool feed and streamed live on www.whitehouse.gov, www.pbs.org/inperformanceatthewhitehouse and npr.org/music.  NPR will also produce a one-hour concert special from this event for broadcast nationwide on NPR Member stations throughout the month of February, beginning February 12.  The special will be available at www.npr.org/music.

“We are proud to join the White House in bringing this concert to the American people,” noted Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA.  “This event marks the forty-third production of the WETA ‘In Performance at the White House’ series and it is our pleasure to continue this legacy of sharing the rich cultural life of this country with the public.”

“‘In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement’ will provide PBS viewers with the best seat in the house for a very special evening.  This performance 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 heritage,” said PBS president and CEO Paula Kerger.

“The songs of the Civil Rights Movement capture the spirit of that critical period so memorably.  To honor these songs at the White House and in a broadcast during Black History Month is a testament to that historic period in the American story, one that continues to change our lives,” commented Jacquie Jones, executive director of the National Black Programming Consortium.

“Through this remarkable program, we are affirming our common values and the contribution of cultural diversity to our civil society,” said Pat Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).  “CPB, through public service media, is committed to the development of programs for all Americans that inspire, educate, inform and entertain.  The ‘In Performance at the White House’ series is a shining example of this mission.”

In addition to the evening concert, there are a variety of educational plans that will surround the event.  The afternoon of the concert taping the White House will host “Music that Inspired the Movement,” a class for high school students in the State Dining Room.  The event will be produced by The GRAMMY Museum® and led by Robert Santelli, executive director of The GRAMMY Museum® and a co-producer of “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement.”  Santelli is a leading musicologist and music educator who will teach students how the music of the Civil Rights Movement is as important to today’s generation as it was to generations past.  The afternoon will also feature performers from the evening event.  The White House “Music that Inspired the Movement” class will be streamed live on www.whitehouse.gov, www.pbs.org/
inperformanceatthewhitehouse, www.grammymuseum.org and www.blackpublicmedia.org.  Schools and students all over the country will be invited to watch and engage in the workshop.

“Music that Inspired the Movement” will be accompanied by a broader educational program, also developed by The GRAMMY Museum®, consisting of a series of visits to Greater Washington-area institutions that preserve the history of the Civil Rights Movement and a special “Backstage Pass” program where students will attend a sound check for the concert event and ask questions of the artists.  Students will also have the chance to participate in a press conference for student journalists reporting for their school newspapers.  In addition, The GRAMMY Museum® will offer downloadable “Music that Inspired the Movement” curriculum for middle and high school teachers, available at www.grammymuseum.org and www.pbs.org/inperformanceatthewhitehouse.

Additionally, the National Black Programming Consortium will create online content centered on the participating youth.  NBPC will provide students with flip video cameras and instructions in their use, so that the students can tell their own perspectives on the Civil Rights Movement.  NBPC will work in partnership with Ebony, one of the oldest African American magazines in the country.  Ebony will allow the students access to their archives of images from the Civil Rights Movement in order to create videos about the era.  The content will be available on www.whitehouse.gov www.blackpublicmedia.org and www.pbs.org/inperformanceatthewhitehouse.

“In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement” will be the third “In Performance at the White House” program during President Barack Obama’s administration.  A February 2009 event, “In Performance at the White House - Celebrating the Music of Stevie Wonder: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize,” honored musician Stevie Wonder’s receipt of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.  An October 2009 concert, “In Performance at the White House: Fiesta Latina,” was broadcast nationwide during National Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrated Hispanic musical heritage with a star-studded line-up that included Marc Anthony, Gloria Estefan, José Feliciano and Eva Longoria Parker.

“In Performance at the White House” has been produced by WETA since 1978 and spans every administration since President Carter’s.  The series began with an East Room recital by the legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz.  Since then, “In Performance at the White House” has embraced virtually every genre of American performance: pop, country, gospel, jazz, blues, theatre and dance among them.  The series was created to showcase the rich fabric of American culture in the setting of the nation’s most famous home.  Past programs have showcased such talent as cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, dancer/choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov, country music singer Merle Haggard, the United States Marine Band, soul singer Aretha Franklin, leading Broadway performers, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem.
“In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement” is a production of WETA Washington, D.C., in association with The GRAMMY Museum®, AEG Ehrlich Ventures and the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC).  The executive producers of “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement” are Dalton Delan and David S. Thompson of WETA.  The producers are Ken Ehrlich, executive producer of The GRAMMY Awards; Smokey Robinson, legendary Motown singer, songwriter and producer; and Robert Santelli, executive director of The GRAMMY Museum®.  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.

For more information about “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music from the Civil Rights Movement,” visit www.pbs.org/inperformanceatthewhitehouse.  An electronic press kit, including downloadable talent photos for promotional use, is available at pressroom.pbs.org.

WETA Washington, D.C., is the third-largest producing station for public television.  WETA’s other productions and co-productions include “PBS NewsHour,” “The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize” and documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns, including the premiere this fall of “The Tenth Inning,” a continuation on the beloved “BASEBALL” series.  More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at www.weta.org.

The National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) develops, produces and funds television and more recently audio and online programming about the black experience for America public media outlets, including television, digital radio and the web.  Since its founding in 1979, NBPC has provided hundreds of broadcast hours documenting African American history, culture and experience to public television and launched major initiatives that have brought important public media content to diverse audiences.  Currently, NBPC is preparing to launch the Public Media Corps, a national, broadband-based program designed to raise awareness about the role of public media in a democracy, to extend the reach of tax-payer funded content into the digital realm and to recruit the next generation of content makers, innovators and other stakeholders coming from all of America’s rich and diverse communities.  More information is available at www.nbpc.tv

PBS, with its 356 member stations, offers all Americans — from every walk of life — the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content.  Each month, PBS reaches more than 115 million people on-air and online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; hear diverse viewpoints; and take front row seats to world-class drama and performances.  PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions.  Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life.  PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and Web site, pbskids.org, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children.  More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.

NPR is an award-winning, multimedia news organization and an influential force in American life.  In collaboration with more than 880 independent public radio stations nationwide, NPR strives to create a more informed public – one challenged and invigorated by a deeper understanding and appreciation of events, ideas and cultures.  NPR reaches a growing audience of more than 26.4 million listeners weekly; to find local stations and broadcast times for NPR programs, visit www.npr.org/stations.

CPB is a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967 and is steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting.  It helps support the operations of more than 1,100 locally-owned and -operated public television and radio stations nationwide, and is the largest single source of funding for research, technology, and program development for public radio, television and related online services.  More information about CPB is available at www.cpb.org.

# # #

Additional Documents

  • IPWH-CivilRights-PressRelease-FINAL.doc