Before an evening concert,first lady Michelle Obama hosted a workshop for nearly 120 students from D.C.-area schools.
Lyle Lovett,Darius Rucker and Kris Kristofferson joined Obama on a stage in the State Dining Room in the White House. Each of the musicians performed one song and urged the students to be persistent.
“You have to see yourself here in these seats,sitting up here on this stage one day,” Obama said to the students. “Because Kris,Darius and Lyle might be country music stars today,but they were once just young people like you with their own dreams.”
Kristofferson,75,who released his first single at the age of 30,told students to never give up trying.
“It’s the love of doing it that keeps you going,” he said.
Lovett,54,graduated from college with a journalism degree,but failed to find a job. He told the students that he decided to pursue his love for songwriting. He said country music has remained consistent over time through its use of narrative lyrics.
Today’s country music “continues to uphold those traditions,yet has a way of branching out and incorporating new sounds,” Lovett said in an interview before the performance.
Rucker,45,is a recent convert to country music. Before releasing his first country single in 2008,he was a member of the rock band Hootie and the Blowfish.
“Country is getting more diverse and opening its doors and growing,” Rucker said in an interview before the event. “It’s the new rock and roll,really.”
Students from Anacostia High School and Woodrow Wilson High School,both in Washington,and Newport Middle School in suburban Kensington,Md.,took part in the workshop. The artists discussed the history,cultural significance and evolution of today’s country music.
Students asked questions about the three singers’ experiences,from songwriting to performing on stage.
Monday night,the three singers were to be joined by Dierks Bentley,Alison Krauss,The Band Perry,Lauren Alaina and James Taylor for a concert. It is the seventh in the “In Performance at the White House” series during the Obama administration.
The performance was to stream live at 7 p.m. and air later on public television stations. Check local listings.
Contact reporter Shannon McDonald at 202-326-9868 or [email protected]. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.