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White House celebrates Memphis soul sound

President Obama said he’d been looking forward to a White House celebration of Memphis soul music for one reason.

“Let’s face it, who does not love this music?” he asked Tuesday, opening the night’s concert.

Memphis, Tenn., was segregated in the 1960s, but blacks and whites came together despite the racism to create a soulful blend of gospel and rhythmic blues music that sought to “bridge those divides, to create a little harmony with harmony,” Obama said.

He noted that two of the night’s guests, Booker T. Jones and Steve Cropper, helped form one of the city’s first integrated bands.

“They weren’t allowed to go to school together,” the president said. “But no one could stop them from playing music together.”

The show opened with Sam Moore, half of the duo Sam & Dave, and “American Idol” finalist and gospel singer Joshua Ledet belting out Moore’s “Soul Man,” followed minutes later by Justin Timberlake and his rendition of Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay.”

–Associated Press

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