Contemporary gospel artists Smokie Norful, Donnie McClurkin and Erica and Tina Campbell of Mary Mary were special guests at the East Room of the White House this Monday as President Bush celebrated Black Music Month. Each artist performed two songs while the president and the first lady clapped and nodded along.
Let history record you had me jumpin’ in my seat,” said President Bush to Donnie McClurkin after the artist’s performance of “Our God Is An Awesome God.”
“It was an honor singing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the White House before the President, his wife and staff. Proverbs 18:16 came to pass,” said McClurkin. “It’s wonderful that President Bush would open this up to a totally gospel evening where he would join in song and praise to God.”
The artists also had time to spend with the president after the tribute at a small dinner that was hosted by Bush.
“Singing, praying, sitting, eating and laughing with us for hours was indicative of his love for God,” continued McClurkin, who was asked by President Bush to pray for the dinner. “He is a president that openly acknowledges God.”
“The artists we celebrate this month use music to lift the human spirit,” said President Bush in his remarks during the tribute. “Black music in America began with the work songs and spirituals of people held in slavery. Their songs bore witness to cruelty and earthly injustice. And yet in them we hear the voice of faith lifted up to God.”
Innovators of black music that the president cited included Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Lena Horne, Diana Ross and Ella Fitzgerald.
“The incredible talents of black musicians keep lifting their art, and lifting the souls of America,” said Bush. “We're grateful to all the black musicians who have brought such beauty and pride to our country.”
For a full transcription of President Bush’s remarks, please visit: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2005/06/20050606-4.html