Video by PBS/In Performance at the White House
After saying he wasn’t going to sing Wednesday night, President Barack Obama broke his promise at the tail end of a Ray Charles tribute concert at the White House.
The president thanked the crowd that had packed into the East Room of the White House in what was the final “In Performance” concert, a long-standing series produced by WETA since the late 1970s, of his administration.
“It is fitting that we pay tribute one of the most brilliant and influential of our times: the late, great ‘Genius’ himself, Mr. Ray Charles,” Obama said of the iconic soul musician, amid Black History Month.
The nights performers capped the musical tribute to the singer with a live performance of Charles’ immortal “What’d I Say.” Usher led the song, before Leon Bridges, Demi Lovato, Brittany Howard and others all joined the stage. At the end of the song, Obama, with the first lady nearby, led the crowd through the song’s famous hey-ho call and response.
PBS stations nationwide will air “Smithsonian Salutes Ray Charles: In Performance at the White House” tonight, Feb. 26, 2016, at 9 p.m. EST. Check your local listings.
Editor’s note: The headline has been changed to reflect the correct spelling of Ray Charles’ song “What’d I Say.”