LBJ Library to Commemorate 50th anniversary of NEA and NEH at the White House

Oct 09, 2015


— Latest from Emmy Award-Nominated
"In Performance at the White House" Series

Also Features Buddy Guy, Audra McDonald, Keb’ Mo’, Trombone Shorty, Esperanza Spalding and Brian Stokes Mitchell,
Airing January 8, 2016 on PBS or

Watch the livestream on Tuesday, October 14, 2015 at and

Contact: Kate Kelly, WETA / 703.998.2072 / [email protected]
Carrie Johnson, PBS / 703.739.5129 / [email protected]
Project hashtag: #PBSipwh

WASHINGTON, D.C. — "A Celebration of American Creativity: In Performance at the White House" is a PBS music special taped in the East Room of the White House. President and Mrs. Obama will host the all-star music tribute celebrating the cultural resonance of art and literature in unique American musical forms. Taping October 14, 2015, the evening includes performances by Buddy Guy, Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Audra McDonald, Keb' Mo', Smokey Robinson, Trombone Shorty, Esperanza Spalding, Brian Stokes Mitchell, James Taylor and Usher, with special readings and remarks from Carol Burnett (program subject to change). These performances will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act that was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 29, 1965. The act called for the creation of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) as separate, independent agencies, the culmination of a movement calling for the federal government to invest in culture.

The event will also mark the first hip-hop performance in the "In Performance at the White House" broadcast series. The song selections for the evening will draw from American-originated musical genres, including hip-hop, blues and the American Songbook. The hour-long program, part of the Emmy Award-nominated “In Performance at the White House” series, is the fifty-fifth production in the series’ thirty-seven year history. "A Celebration of American Creativity: In Performance at the White House" will premiere Friday, January 8, 2016 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings), as part of PBS Arts.

The concert, including President Obama’s remarks, will be available for press via the White House Press Corps pool feed and streamed live on and

"It is a great privilege to join the White House in honoring the importance of humanities and arts to our nation’s culture," said Sharon Percy Rockefeller, president and CEO of WETA, the flagship public broadcaster in the nation’s capital that is co-producing the special. "Our long-running series 'In Performance at the White House' showcases American creativity as expressed through music for the American people."

"This special evening, shared with the nation from the White House, will embody an aspect of President Johnson's vision of a 'Great Society' that embraces cultural activity to advance our civilization," noted Mark K. Updegrove, director of the LBJ Presidential Library. "We are proud of this opportunity to honor what President Johnson established fifty years ago and to celebrate the artistic creativity that has blossomed over the years due to the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts."

"Throughout our history, public television has brought some of the greatest performers of our time to a national stage. No matter where you live, you have a front row seat to extraordinary performances. 'In Performance at the White House' continues to spotlight some of the best of our collective artistic heritage, celebrating the diversity and creativity of our great nation," said Paula A. Kerger, president and CEO of PBS.

"The diverse and rich cultural traditions of our country will be on display in this remarkable concert," said William D. Adams, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). "The NEH is very proud of its extensive efforts to make those traditions accessible to the American people, from our work in preserving important music recordings to our support for scholarship in the history of American music."

"America is recognized throughout the world as a place where the size of your dreams is limited only by your imagination," said Jane Chu, chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). "This White House performance is testament to the dreams and artistry that have allowed our cultural landscape to flourish, and to bloom so vibrantly. 'In Performance at the White House' is a wonderful way to celebrate the ways in which the arts and humanities nourish our nation’s creativity, inspire dreams, and encourage self-expression."

Educational Program with the White House

On the morning of the concert taping, First Lady Michelle Obama will host "A Celebration of Song," an educational workshop to be held in the State Dining Room for more than 60 middle school and high school students from throughout the Greater Washington region. The event will be produced by the GRAMMY Museum® and led by Bob Santelli, executive director of the GRAMMY Museum® at L.A. LIVE. Santelli is a leading musicologist and music educator who will give the students an overview of American cultural influences on music over the years, and songwriting techniques. Santelli will be joined by special musical guests Smokey Robinson, Keb' Mo', MC Lyte, Esperanza Spalding and Trombone Shorty, who will share their experiences as well as answer students’ questions. The students will also participate interactively with the artists to write and perform their own songs during the workshop. The White House "A Celebration of Song" workshop will be streamed live on

"A Celebration of Song" will be accompanied by a broader educational program, also developed by the GRAMMY Museum®, consisting of visits to Greater Washington-area institutions and a special student press conference where student journalists will be able to question production staff for articles in their school or local newspaper. In addition, the GRAMMY Museum® will offer downloadable curriculum and educational materials for middle and high school teachers, available at and This is the tenth educational workshop at the White House that the GRAMMY Museum® has organized, in cooperation with the "In Performance at the White House" concert series.

"In Performance at the White House" Series

"A Celebration of American Creativity: In Performance at the White House" will be the fifteenth "In Performance at the White House" program during President Barack Obama’s administration. From February 2009 to the most recent broadcast in June 2015, "In Performance at the White House" events have honored the musical genius of Stevie Wonder, Sir Paul McCartney, Burt Bacharach, Hal David and Carole King; celebrated Hispanic musical heritage during Hispanic Heritage Month; marked Black History Month with events featuring the music of Motown, the Blues, and the Civil Rights Movement; explored the rich roots of Country, Gospel and Memphis Soul music; saluted our American troops; and spotlighted Broadway and the unique spirit of the American musical. The star-studded line-ups have included Marc Anthony, Tony Bennett, Mary J. Blige, Common, Elvis Costello, Sheryl Crow, Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Aretha Franklin, Jamie Foxx, José Feliciano, Dave Grohl, Buddy Guy, Herbie Hancock, Faith Hill, Jennifer Hudson, Mick Jagger, Jonas Brothers, B.B. King, Alison Krauss, Nathan Lane, John Legend, Eva Longoria, Idina Menzel, Sam Moore, Mike Myers, Willie Nelson, Darius Rucker, Seal, Jerry Seinfeld, Elaine Stritch, Justin Timberlake and Jack White.

"In Performance at the White House" has been produced by WETA since 1978 and spans every administration since President Carter's. The series began with an East Room recital by the legendary pianist Vladimir Horowitz. Since then, "In Performance at the White House" has embraced virtually every genre of American performance: pop, country, gospel, jazz, theatre and dance among them. The series was created to showcase the rich fabric of American culture in the setting of the nation’s most famous home. Past programs have showcased such talent as cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, dancer/choreographer Mikhail Baryshnikov, the United States Marine Band, soul and jazz singers Natalie Cole and Anita Baker, leading Broadway performers, and the Dance Theatre of Harlem.

"A Celebration of American Creativity: In Performance at the White House" Production

The television program "A Celebration of American Creativity: In Performance at the White House" is a production of WETA Washington, D.C.; CoMedia; Mark Krantz Productions; and Cappy Productions. Executive producers are Dalton Delan, Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky, Mark Krantz and Cappy McGarr. Bob Santelli is executive director of the GRAMMY Museum®. The director is Leon Knoles. The music director is Crispin Cioe. The "In Performance at the White House" series was created by WETA Washington, D.C. The series producer is Jackson Frost. Funding for the program is provided by the LBJ Foundation, David M. Rubenstein, the Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund, the Howard Gilman Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation, the Ford Foundation, The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation and the Spencer Foundation. Air travel is generously provided by American Airlines.

For more information about "A Celebration of American Creativity: In Performance at the White House," visit An electronic press kit, including downloadable talent photos for promotional use, is available at To follow "In Performance at the White House" on Twitter, use hashtag #PBSipwh.

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WETA Washington, D.C., is one of the largest-producing stations of new content for public television in the United States and serves Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia with educational initiatives and with high-quality programming on four digital television channels. Other WETA productions and co-productions include "PBS NewsHour," "Washington Week with Gwen Ifill," "The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize," "The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song" and documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns, including "The Roosevelts: An Intimate History" and the April 2016 premiere of "Jackie Robinson." More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at

Mark Krantz, Bob Kaminsky, Peter Kaminsky, and Cappy McGarr created "The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor," which has honored a litany of comedy legends including Richard Pryor, Jonathan Winters, George Carlin, Tina Fey and Carol Burnett and is now in its eighteenth year. Krantz, the Kaminskys and McGarr, with Dalton Delan of WETA, also created "The Gershwin Prize for Popular Song," in which similarly all-star casts have honored Stevie Wonder, Paul Simon, Paul McCartney, Carole King and the team of Bacharach/David. Among this team's production credits for awards ceremonies and television shows (many of them head writing credits as well) are: "The Grammy’s"; "Farm Aid" (with Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan and The Grateful Dead); the "MTV Video Music Awards" (the VMA’s); "VH-1 Hard Rock Live"; the "Montreal Comedy Festival" (HBO and Showtime); People magazine's "20th Birthday" (ABC); Spy magazine's "How To Be Famous" starring Jerry Seinfeld; Spy magazine’s "Hit List" with Julia-Louis Dreyfus (NBC); the Carnegie Hall Tributes to Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Carol Burnett; the Museum of the Moving Image tributes to Steven Spielberg and Robin Williams; "The Songwriter’s Hall of Fame" (with James Brown, Brian Wilson, Paul McCartney, Carole King and James Taylor); "The Toyota New York Comedy Festival"; "The New Yorker Magazine Festival"; and The President’s Summit For America’s Future (with Presidents Clinton, Ford, George H.W. Bush, Carter, Nancy Reagan and Colin Powell).

The GRAMMY Museum® is an independent, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization created as a partnership  between The Recording Academy and AEG. Paying tribute to music’s rich cultural history, the one-of-a-kind, 21st century Museum explores and celebrates the enduring legacies of all forms of music, the creative process, the art and technology of the recording process, and the history of the premier recognition of excellence in recorded music. The GRAMMY Museum® features 30,000 square feet of interactive permanent and traveling exhibits, with four floors of dynamic and engaging multimedia presentations, and is located within L.A. LIVE, the downtown Los Angeles sports, entertainment and residential district. Through thought-provoking and dynamic public and educational programs and exhibits, guests will experience music from a never-before-seen insider perspective that only the GRAMMY Museum can deliver. More information is available at For breaking news and exclusive content, follow @TheGRAMMYMuseum on Twitter and Instagram, and like "The GRAMMY Museum" on Facebook.

PBS, with over 350 member stations, offers all Americans the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each month, PBS reaches more than 103 million people through television and over 33 million people online, inviting them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; to hear diverse viewpoints; and to take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS’ broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry’s most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS’ premier children’s TV programming and its website,, are parents’ and teachers’ most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at, one of the leading dot-org websites on the Internet, or by following PBS on Twitter, Facebook or through our apps for mobile devices. Specific program information and updates for press are available at or by following PBS Pressroom on Twitter.

The Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports the LBJ Presidential Library and the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. Through the fundraising efforts of its Board of Trustees, the Foundation provides support to the Library that enhances quality programming, expands educational outreach and exhibits, and administers grants for researchers and scholars. The Foundation also raises money to support the LBJ School, which provides its graduate students an outstanding education in public policy and governmental affairs, community outreach, and the exploration of global initiatives. These two institutions, one looking to the past and the other to the future, provide an ongoing legacy for President Johnson’s accomplishments and his vision for our nation. For more information, visit