See also☛ PAUL McCARTNEY AT KENNEDY CENTER HONORS (Complete)
President Obama presented America's highest award for popular music − the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song − to Sir Paul McCartney in the East Room of the White House which featured live performances of several artists singing famous McCartney tunes as well as a mini-concert by Sir Paul himself. The musical tribute was in celebration of the Library of Congress Gershin Prize for Popular Song award being presented to Sir Paul by President Obama.
Among the special tributes by performers including Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl, Jack White, Faith Hill and The Jonas Brothers, was a special performance by Stevie Wonder. Stevie first performed his own version of "We Can Work It Out" and then later was joined by Paul onstage to sing their 1980s hit "Ebony and Ivory."
The song was originally released in 1982 and spent seven weeks at number one on the Billboard charts according to Wikipedia. Almost 30 years later, the song about racial harmony had even more significance as McCartney and Wonder performed it at the White House before the first African-American President in the United States.
McCartney commented in an interview with the AP:
"One of the highs was singing 'Ebony and Ivory' with Stevie because we'd never done it live together, so that was great. To sing it live together for the very first time with the first black president there, it suddenly gave a great significance to the song....To sing it with Stevie in front of President Obama was very emotional."
When accepting the award, McCartney said: "This is such a fantastic evening for me. I mean, getting this prize would just be good enough, but getting it from this president..." which resulted in cheers and applause from the audience.
Paul McCartney's girlfriend, Nancy, accompanied him to the show and McCartney's children, Stella, Mary and James were sitting in the second row behind their father.
As they gathered to present the annual award for extraordinary contributions to American music and culture, in his remarks, the President took a moment to address the challenges Americans face and the value of music in tough times:
We've gone through a difficult year and a half, and right now our thoughts and our prayers are with friends in another part of the country that is so rich in musical heritage -- the people of the Gulf Coast who are dealing with something that we simply had not seen before. And it's heartbreaking. And we reaffirm, I think together, our commitment to see to it that their lives and their communities are made whole again.
But part of what gets us through tough times is music, the arts, the ability to capture that essential kernel of ourselves, that part of us that sings even when times are hard. And it's fitting that the Library has chosen to present this year's Gershwin Prize for Popular Song to a man whose father played Gershwin compositions for him on the piano; a man who grew up to become the most successful songwriter in history --- Sir Paul McCartney.
Performances in order of appearance on the PBS Special:
1) Paul McCartney -- Got to Get You Into My Life
2) Stevie Wonder -- We Can Work It Out
3) Jonas Brothers -- Drive My Car
4) Jerry Seinfeld comedy routine
5) Jack White -- Mother Nature's Son
6) Faith Hill -- The Long and Winding Road
7) Corinne Bailey Rae & Herbie Hancock -- Blackbird
8 ) Elvis Costello -- Penny Lane
9) Emmylou Harris -- For No One
10) Lang Lang -- Celebration (instrumental from Standing Stone)
11) Dave Grohl -- Band on the Run
12) Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder -- Ebony and Ivory
13) President Obama's dedication speech
14) Paul McCartney -- Michelle
15) Paul McCartney -- Eleanor Rigby
16) Paul McCartney -- Let It Be
17) Paul McCartney -- Hey Jude
In the East Room of the White House. June 2, 2010.