Bill Clinton photo

Remarks at WETA's "Women of Country: In Performance at the White House"

May 17, 1995

The President. Thank you very much. Where I was raised we didn't know it was country; we thought it was the only music there was. [Laughter]

Ladies and gentlemen, country music vividly demonstrates America's fundamental ability to adapt and to change, to innovate, while never forgetting the best of our past in the mountains of Appalachia, in the hills and fields of the South, in the plains and deserts of the cowboy West. We took ancient folk ballads, we mixed in blues and gospel and came up with a whole new kind of song. As an American and as a southerner, I take special pride in seeing our country music now spreading all across the planet. And I'm very proud that our theme this evening is the women of country.

Our host has a well-earned reputation for nurturing and encouraging country talent, and for a little country homespun wisdom. He's worked with everybody from Hank Williams, Dottie West, and Elvis, to Dolly Parton and Paul McCartney. He's probably the best known guitarist in the world. Please welcome Mr. Chet Atkins.

[At this point, the performances proceeded.]

The President. Thank you so much. I want to thank Suzy Bogguss, Alison Krauss, Kathy Mattea. Thank you all, and thank all the wonderful musicians who played with you. Thank you, Kathy, for singing the song for me and the Secretary of Education that we love so much.

Thank you, Chet Atkins, for bringing so much alive to all of us. Thank you for bringing my old friend Randy Goodrun back. He's playing with a lot higher class musicians than he did 30 years ago when we started. [Laughter]

Ladies and gentlemen, in country music we truly hear America singing. It's the honest sound of our day-to-day triumphs and our heartbreaks, our joy, our sorrow, our love, and our hope. These women of country are using their power and their skill and their heart to make this music even richer and more compassionate and more wonderful.

Thank you, and good night.

NOTE: The President spoke at 7:44 p.m. on the South Lawn at the White House.

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

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