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Bob Dylan’s First White House Concert in Honor of Civil Rights

Kait Richmond

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Bob Dylan has done a lot over the course of his iconic career, but last week he experienced a first. On Feb. 9, Dylan and a cast of fellow musicians performed at “In Performance at the White House: A Celebration of Music From the Civil Rights Movement.” It was Dylan’s first time playing at the capitol, an event hosted by President and Mrs. Obama, the fifth in a series to celebrate American music.

Dylan performed his 1964 classic, “The Times They Are A-Changin” as the Obamas sat in the front row with Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Jill. Several of Dylan’s old friends also took part; Joan Baez performed “We Shall Overcome” and Smokey Robinson performed “Abraham, Martin and John.” The rest of the cast was composed of Yolanda Adams, John Mellencamp, Natalie Cole, Jennifer Hudson, Freedom Singers, and Blind Boys Alabama. Together, they performed “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

President Obama spoke at the end, encouraging Americans to lift their voices and sing. “It was music that was not only inspired by the movement, but gave strength in return. Let this music carry us forth, as one people. As one nation.”

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Bob Dylan’s First White House Concert in Honor of Civil Rights