President Barack Obama showed his vocal chops when he sang “Sweet Home Chicago,” the blues anthem of his home town, at a White House tribute concert as part of Black History Month.
President Obama feigned reluctance before accepting the microphone from Rolling Stones front man Mick Jagger and performing a duet of sorts with blues legend BB King.
He just couldn’t say no: Mick Jagger held out a mic almost by way of command, and soon President Obama was belting out the blues with the best of them.
“Come on, baby don’t you want to go,” the president sang out twice, handing off the mic to B.B. King momentarily, and then taking it back to tack on “Sweet Home Chicago” at the end.
This was how President Obama began the night: he remarked that even though a president’s life was sometimes restricted by security concerns, having the stars come over to play a gig was an obvious benefit.
“Some nights when you want to go out and just take a walk, clear your head, or jump into a car just to take a drive, you can’t do it. Secret Service won’t let you. And that’s frustrating,” said Barack Obama.
And then there are the times that more than make up for all those frustrations, he said, like Tuesday night, when Jagger, King, Jeff Beck and other musical giants came by the house to sing the blues.
“But then there are other nights where B.B. King and Mick Jagger come over to your house to play for a concert. So I guess things even out a little bit,” the president joked.Â Mr Obama said at the event that the blues remained a popular and powerful genre.
“This music speaks to something universal,” Obama declared. “No one goes through life without both joy and pain, triumph and sorrow. The blues gets all of that, sometimes with just one lyric or one note. ”
King, 86, arrived in a wheelchair but rose tall to kick off the night with a raucous “Let the Good Times Roll,” quickly joined by other members of the ensemble. And he followed with “The Thrill is Gone.”
From there, Obama and his wife, Michelle, were swaying in their seats and singing along to an all-hits playlist including “St. James Infirmary” and “Let Me Love You.”
It is not the first time crowds have been treated to his presidential vocals. In January Obama serenaded a packed auditorium during a New York fund-raising event.
Mr Obama singing soul legend Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” was a sure-fire hit last month, garnering positive coverage on cable news and online.
One of the videos of Barack Obama crooning “I’m so in love with you,” at New York’s famed Apollo Theater in Harlem, has been viewed over 5 million times on YouTube.
The favourite to face Obama in the US presidential election in November, Mitt Romney, is also fond of a public sing-song.
The Republican’s current favourite for the White House race recently belted out ‘America the Beautiful’ on the campaign trail.