STEVE INSKEEP, host:
The start of another snowstorm in Washington, D.C. did not prevent a concert last night at the White House.
(Soundbite of song "Amazing Grace")
Ms. YOLANDA ADAMS (Singer): (Singing) Then sings my soul, my savior, God, to thee...
RENEE MONTAGNE, host:
That's the voice of Yolanda Adams. She was one of the performers who sang songs of the civil rights era.
(Soundbite of song "The Times They Are A-Changing")
Mr. BOB DYLAN (Singer): (Singing) ...shake your windows and rattle your walls, for the times they are a-changing.
INSKEEP: The people onstage ranged from Bob Dylan to Smokey Robinson to Jennifer Hudson. Their performance during Black History Month was part of a series of White House concerts that use music to tell the story of America.
MONTAGNE: Bernice Johnson Reagon of the group Sweet Honey in the Rock recalled a tune that protesters sang during a march in her hometown.
Ms. BERNICE JOHNSON REAGON (Singer): And a song that had been a song against slavery moved into a contemporary statement and led the march that night.
(Soundbite of song "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around")
SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK: (Singing) Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around, turn me around, turn me around. Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around...
Ms. JOHNSON REAGON: Wait. I know this is a show but you have to actually sing this song.
(Soundbite of applause)
Ms. JOHNSON REAGON: You can never tell when you might need it.
(Soundbite of laughter)
SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK: (Singing) Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around, turn me around...
INSKEEP: Bernice Johnson Reagon, one of the performers who sang songs of the civil rights era last night at the White House.
MONTAGNE: Those listening included the first black president, who joined in the singing and he said of the music, it has the power to carry the cause of a people.
Unidentified Announcer: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the fantastic Blind Boys of Alabama.
(Soundbite of applause)
INSKEEP: You can catch the whole event tomorrow night on many PBS stations.
(Soundbite of song "Free At Last")
BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA (Musicians): (Singing) All right. Everybody put your hands together.
MONTAGNE: And you can find pictures of the concert at NPR.org.
BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA: (Singing) Free at last, free at last, hey, thank God almighty I'm free at last. I'm free at last free at last, hey, hey, thank God almighty I'm free at last. One day, one day I was walking along. Thank God almighty I'm free at last. I heard a voice but I saw no one. Thank God almighty I'm free at last. The voice I heard sounded so sweet. Thank God almighty I'm free at last. I thought I heard...
INSKEEP: This is NPR News.
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