Stevie Wonder at the White House

With Barack Obama in the White House, we have a president who doesn’t go to bed at 9:30 with a glass of warm milk. President Obama and Michelle Obama like to have fun, and Stevie Wonder rocked the White House the other night.

The East Room of the White House, normally a place for staid presidential news conferences and other Washington happenings, was switched into a nightclub Wednesday night as Stevie Wonder stepped inside and rocked the house.

Wonder was the winner of The Library of Congress’ Gershwin Prize, which was bestowed on him by President Obama.

In a celebration to be broadcast on PBS Thursday night, Wonder serenaded the first couple, kicking things off with a version of “Sir Duke” and later Wonder classics like “Isn’t She Lovely” and “Superstition.”

But the night was also a tribute to Wonder. Tony Bennett, Paul Simon, and Martina McBride all paraded though, each with their own rendition of Wonder’s hits.

President Obama and Michelle Obama, in an elegant emerald gown, along with Vice President Biden and his wife Jill, took in the show from the front row.

Good stuff.


Jim Brickman: Ultimate Love Songs – The Very Best of Jim Brickman

Counting compilations, the ballad-loving pianist Jim Brickman has released an astounding 22 albums since 1994, all of them virtually indistinguishable from one another to anyone not cursed with a bottomless thirst for treacle and a superhuman tolerance for schmaltz. Album number 22, Ultimate Love Songs: The Very Best of Jim Brickman, collects some of Brickman’s best-known collaborations with vocalists, adds four new tracks for good (?) measure, and even tacks on a wonderful liner notes essay from Brickman himself (“My songs calm the frenzy, and wrap the listener in a soothing blanket of melody”). If you’re a fan of early ‘90s adult contemporary music, Ultimate Love Songs is a veritable feast for the ears, featuring Martina McBride, Michael W. Smith, Collin Raye, and many others (oh yes, There Will Be Bolton) – but if you’ve got any sort of affection for rock music, then listening to this album will make you want to die. It’s just one hokey love song after another, many of them performed by cornpone country singers well past their commercial prime (two notable exceptions: Wayne Brady, whose vocals on “Beautiful” will make you wish a bitch had choked him, and Jane Krakowski of “30 Rock). It’s calculated, connect-the-dots stuff that all sounds pretty much the same, and a little of it goes an awfully long way – but if you’re one of Brickman’s many, many fans, it’ll give you another soothing blanket of melody to cuddle up under until Album 23 comes along. (Time Life 2009)

Jim Brickman MySpace page


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