Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at WETA's "In Performance at the White House"

June 03, 1998

First, welcome to the White House and to another year of celebrating the beauty, the power, the diversity of American music. All our music is an important part of our national heritage. We must and we're going to do more to celebrate it as we move forward toward the millennium.

We've had in this White House, since I've been privileged to be here, jazz music and classical music, country music and rock music, rhythm and blues. We've had just about everything you can imagine. But tonight we celebrate music that is truly an American gift. Wedded to the powerful message of faith and conviction, gospel lifts our hearts and minds and soothes our souls, calms our spirits.

Gospel grew out of the musical traditions of Africa. Its roots were nourished by the blood, the sweat, the tears of millions of people who were held captive in slavery. Throughout this century, particularly during the civil rights era, the amazing grace of gospel music has been a sustaining force for countless Americans. It's a voice of hardship and hope, of pain and triumph.

And as we'll see tonight, gospel music's appeal now embraces Americans of very many different backgrounds and religious affiliations. Tonight we have with us people with great voices and great hearts: the Morgan State University Choir; Phil Driscoll; Mickey Mangun and the Messiah Singers from Louisiana; and our terrific mistress of ceremonies, CeCe Winans.

CeCe has an extraordinary ability to blend the wide range of popular styles into traditional gospels. She and her brother BeBe did a wonderful job at my Inaugural church service. She's had a terrific career. She's got a great gift. And I am honored to welcome her here tonight to begin this wonderful performance.

CeCe, come on out.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:50 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to musicians Phil Driscoll and Mickey Mangun. The performance was videotaped for later broadcast on PBS television.

William J. Clinton, Remarks at WETA's "In Performance at the White House" Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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