In honor of President Obama’s final months in office, BET threw the Commander-in-Chief a star-packed concert last month featuring performances from Usher, Bell Biv DeVoe, Common, Janelle Monae and Yolanda Adams. The special aired on BET on Tuesday night.
The President said that events like this doubled as celebrations of important democratic ideals. “This is the people’s house and it ought to reflect the amazing diversity and the imagination and the incredible ingenuity that defines the American people,” he said.
“While much of the music that you will hear this evening – gospel, R&B, rap – is rooted in the African-American experience, it’s not just black music: this is an essential part of the American experience. It’s a mirror to who we are, and a reminder of who we can be. That’s what American music is all about,” Obama said. “And generations from now, I hope it’s the story that the White House will continue to tell.”
The President also made room for a few quips in his speech. “There will be no twerking tonight,” he informed his guests. “At least not by me. I don’t know about Usher.”
When Usher performed, he ripped through an eclectic set, playing a hard funk version of his own “Caught Up,” incorporating snippets of James Brown’s “Say It Loud I’m Black and I’m Proud” and the Blackbyrds’ “Rock Creek Park,” and then looping back to his hit “Yeah.” Bell Biv Devoe played it safe, pumping out their 1990 classic “Poison.”
President Obama said he will miss these events. “This has become one of our favorite traditions,” he noted before the performances began. “It’s with a little of bittersweetness that this is our final musical evening as President and First Lady,” he added, to audible groans from the crowd.