With President Obama’s admirers now looking on his departure with an extra jolt of nostalgia, BET did its best to send him off in style.
On Tuesday night, the network aired a tribute concert from the White House lawn. “BET Presents: Love & Happiness: An Obama Celebration” honored the nation’s first black president in his last months in office, lightening the mood a bit for those who wish he didn’t have to go.
“There will be no twerking tonight,” Obama said.” At least not by me. I don’t know about Usher.
“This event may be called ‘Love & Happiness,’ but much to — I know — your sadness and regret, I will not be singing Al Green,” he also joked, riffing on his previous, famous ad lib of “Let’s Stay Together” at the Apollo.
However, many top soul, hip-hop and R&B acts did perform, including Usher, Common, Janelle Monáe, the Roots and De La Soul. Among the highlights: Common and Yolanda Adams performing the Oscar-winning “Glory” with an extra, yearning edge.
Obama seemed to acknowledge the melancholy of the occasion.
“It’s with a little bit of bittersweetness that this is our final musical evening as president and first lady,” he said.
But in dark times, he added, music can spark hope and optimism.
“It’s a mirror to who we are, and a reminder of who we can be. That’s what American music’s all about.”
For breaking music news, follow @augustbrown on Twitter.