Did someone say “Kansas Day at the White House?” Because that’s kind of what it looked like Thursday when Melissa Etheridge and Janelle Monae appeared with first lady Michelle Obama.
Etheridge, a Leavenworth native, and Monae, from KCK, joined singer Patti LaBelle for a morning workshop on soul music in the intimate setting of the State Dining Room.
The workshop was part of “In Performance at the White House” series celebrating female artists as the “foremothers” of American music.
According to The Washington Post, Obama introduced the singers to 124 middle, high school and college-aged kids and encouraged them to work as hard as the women to fulfill their dreams.
The first lady quoted LaBelle as once saying that she had succeeded because she took chances and sang her butt off. Obama then tried to give her own version of that advice, but fell a little short.
"Find your own voice and be proud of it," the first lady advised. "And then, sing your butt off. Or work your butt off. Or whatever you do, do it until your butt comes off.”
"OK, that quote is going to be kind of funny in the papers,” Obama added. “I already know it. My communications people are like, 'What?' But you guys all know what I meant — be good at what you do.”
Each singer shared her own advice and sang for the group. Etheridge sat a piano and accompanied herself on “Stormy Weather.”
Monae performed “Victory,” song she wrote.
Later in the day the singers joined Aretha Franklin, Jill Scott, Ariana Grande and Tessanne Chin in the East Room for “Women of Soul: In Performance at the White House,” a musical special taped by PBS.