Amid deficit crisis, White House hosts country music jamboree

Gracie Ferrell Contributor
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WASHINGTON — Forget the super committee and the threat of another U.S. credit rating downgrade. The White House is getting a ‘lil bit country.

In the latest installment of the White House music series, Michelle Obama invited 120 students from Washington, D.C. area schools to the White House Monday to celebrate the history of country music.

A group of girls were turned around asking photographers in hushed whispers whether they should stand and clap when the first lady entered. Some students were slouching down in their chairs while classmates playfully shushed and slapped at each other.

“I want you all to realize, as you sit here, that you belong here,” the first lady said. “I want to make sure that the White House lives up to the name ‘the People’s House.’ I want to be sure that it’s not just a place for senators and diplomats and CEOs who have a chance to come here, but it’s a place for all Americans, especially young people.”

The afternoon event was free of questions and answers about the economic storm brewing in Congress and in the West Wing. It featured country music stars Lyle Lovett, Darius Rucker and Kris Kristofferson, each of whom strolled into the state dining room carrying a guitar and sporting cowboy boots. Students from Newport Middle School and Anacostia and Woodrow Wilson high schools had a chance to ask each of the men questions about being country music artists.

Lovett began his music career by taking guitar lessons an hour away from his home. While he studied journalism in college, he told the students he “secretly only wanted to play music.”

Kristofferson said his mother wanted to disown him for becoming a songwriter and that he didn’t earn a dime until he was 33.

All three musicians spoke of being influenced by other genres.

“I was told a million times that being from South Carolina, I had no chance of being a musician,” Rucker said. “I just happened to meet three guys that wanted to play rock and roll before breaking off to have a solo country career.”

Monday evening the three joined other musicians including Lauren Alaina, The Band Perry, Dierks Bentley, Alison Krauss and James Taylor for a performance that will be broadcast Wednesday on PBS.

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