Motown Honored at White House Concert

The classic sounds of a bygone era filled the White House this week.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Getty Images
    Singers Seal (R), John Legend (L), Jamie Foxx (2nd L) and Nick Jonas (2nd R) perform in the East Room for “The Motown Sound: In Performance at the White House,” a concert celebrating Black History Month and the legacy of Motown Records in Washington, DC, February 24, 2011. AFP PHOTO/Jim WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

    The East Room of the White House grooved to the classic sounds of one of America's most iconic music labels this week as President and Michelle Obama hosted a special concert honoring Motown, reports the Washington Post.

    In welcoming the attendees to "The Motown Sound: In Performance at the White House," President Obama called the label's music the "soundtrack to the civil rights era" and credited it with helping to "blur the lines between music that was considered black or white" in a racially-polarized America.

    Michelle Obama also lauded the trailblazing stars from Detroit.

    "There wouldn't be an Usher if there wasn't a Smokey Robinson," she said. "You know, there wouldn't be an Alicia Keys without a Gladys Knight."

    A diverse roster of stars featuring Jamie Foxx, John Legend, Seal, Sheryl Crow, Natasha Bedingfeld and Nick Jonas took turns belting out classics such as "Get Ready," "The Way You Do The Things You Do," and "Stop! In the Name of Love."

    But while the tributes were welcomed by the dancing crowd, sometimes it takes a legendary artist to give a timeless song its due.

    With Smokey Robinson and Motown founder Berry Gordy looking on, the night's surprise guest - Stevie Wonder - played his "You Are the Sunshine of My Life" before leading all the assembled musicians in a rendition of Martha and the Vandellas' "Dancing in the Street."

    PBS will re-air the concert on March 1 at 8 p.m.

    Selected Reading: Washington Post, A.P., NPR