President Obama Throws Country Bash
For 70 years, country stars have been honored with invitations to perform for the president at the White House. The Coon Creek Girls did it first, in 1939, when Franklin D. Roosevelt was in office. And next month, President Barack Obama will host a show devoted to country music. The president, whose inauguration activities featured performances by Garth Brooks, Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw, has hosted other events in which country artists such as Martina McBride, Billy Ray Cyrus and Mark Wills have participated.
According to GAC, the event will take place July 21, although details regarding which artists will participated have yet to be released. The country-music event is part of President Obama’s mission to embrace the whole of American culture.
“The President wants the White House to be a stage,” the administration’s social secretary, Desiree Rogers, told The New York Daily News. “We want Americans feeling they’re part of the house.”
Among other country artists who have interacted with the commander-in-chief throughout are Rodney Atkins, who performed ‘If You’re Going Through Hell (Before The Devil Even Knows)‘ for George W. Bush during National Adoption Month; Dolly Parton, who received the National Medal of Arts from Bush; Jimmy Buffett, who sang for Bill Clinton on his birthday; and Kenny Chesney who sang the national anthem for a tee ball game on the White House lawn in July 2008.
A couple of country acts whose White House visits were memorable for other reasons include Willie Nelson, who smoked marijuana on the White House roof while visiting Jimmy Carter and family, and Johnny Cash, who refused a request from Richard Nixon to sing Merle Haggard‘s ‘Okie From Muskogee,’ performing an anti-Vietnam War tune called ‘What Is Truth’ instead.
And while the White House had featured many captive audiences through the years, it also had a captive performer in country-pop legend Eddy Arnold, who got trapped in an elevator a dinner hosted by the wife of President Lyndon Johnson.