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0 Bush and B.B. Sing King's Blues

  • News
  • by Kingsley H. Smith
  • 06/28/2006

B.B. King, Patti Austin, and Irvin Mayfield performed at the White House Monday, June 26, as President Bush acknowledged the celebration of "Black Music Month."

Back in 2001, George W. Bush proclaimed June as Black Music Month. In the first year, Regina Belle and Take 6 performed in the East Room of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, while Lionel Hampton was honored for a lifetime of achievement.

While it's nice that the President is giving some exposure to "the great contributions that black music has made to our nation," this choice of artists is too safe, and too conservative.

These artists represent a 25 to 50 year gap between the popular reality of black music today, and nostalgia.

Don't get me wrong, I'm the biggest B.B. King and Patti Austin fan, but there's a lot more happening in the 2006 iteration of black music than just jazz, and the blues.

Irvin Mayfield is only 28. He's Artistic Director of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, but he represents a genre of music that has been honored repeatedly at the White House.

In fairness, this year's Black Music Month celebrates indigenous sounds of the USA's Gulf Coast, specifically soul, blues, and jazz.

Patti Austin has sung at the White House for every President since Ronald Reagan, so she doesn't need the exposure (or the work there).

Maybe next year, when Black Music Month is celebrated at the Bush White House for the next to last time, we'll have much more flava in the mix.

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Bush and B.B. Sing King's Blues
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