In the White House State Room this morning, First Lady Michelle Obama said there’s a lot of excitement over today’s celebration of Memphis music. The White House, don’t forget, is hosting the latest of its “In Performance” series tonight honoring Memphis, a concert that will be streamed at whitehouse.gov/live.
From the First Lady’s remarks this morning, according to an official White House transcript:
” Memphis, Tennessee is the birthplace of both Elvis Presley’s rock and roll and B.B. King’s blues. And while you can hear both of those influences in Memphis soul, this music has a style and a story uniquely its own.
Back in 1957, a young man started a record label out of his garage. The next year, his sister took out a second mortgage on her house to help him buy some new recording equipment. And just a few years later, their company, Stax Records, was churning out nationwide hits. And soon enough, Memphis had a few more record labels and its own brand of soul, thanks to performers like Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, and of course, somebody my husband thinks he sounds like — (laughter) — the Reverend Al Green. Let’s just tell him he does, okay? (Laughter.) Since he is the President, we like to boost him up a little bit.
But today, that music is still alive. Ben and Charlie and teamed up on a new album from Stax that came out earlier this year. But the best way to understand this music is to hear it and feel it. So in a little bit, I’m going to turn it over to Bob and you’re going to have a chance to hear some stories and songs from these folks up here on stage who have so graciously given their time.
But, look, as you listen, I want you all to keep one thing in mind — and I try to say this to every young person that I encounter that walks through those doors — but realize that none of these folks up here arrived here on the basis of talent alone. They’re here because they’ve been working hard to perfect their craft since they were at least your age and many of them even younger.”