The United States President paid tribute to Queen of Soul Aretha Franklin and a host of other female singers during a special Women of Soul tribute at the White House in Washington, D.C. Thursday night.
"When Aretha first told us what R-S-P-E-C-T meant to her," he began, causing the crowd to laugh. "She had no idea it would become a rallying cry for African Americans and women and anyone else who felt marginalized because of what they looked like, who they loved. They wanted some respect."
Franklin, 71, performed twice during the recital, singing her 1967 hit "I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)" and the Christian hymn "Amazing Grace." The event also featured performances by Melissa Etheridge, Ariana Grande, Patti LaBelle and Janelle Monáe. The full concert will air on PBS on April 7.
"As someone who always shares this house with brilliant, creative, talented, somewhat stubborn women, I think Women's History Month is the perfect time to honor a few more: the women of soul," the politician said during the star-studded show, which was also livestreamed at WhiteHouse.gov/live.
At a morning arts workshop for high school and college students, First Lady Michelle Obama called soul "the kind of music that makes you move, no matter who you are or where you come from."
FLOTUS quoted LaBelle as once saying that she had succeeded in music because she "took chances and sang my butt off." Michelle then said, "Find your own voice and be proud of it. And then, sing your butt off. Or work your butt off. Or whatever you do, do it until your butt comes off." The mom of two added, "OK, that quote is going to be kind of funny in the papers. I already know it. My communications people are like, 'What?' But you guys all know what I meant—be good at what you do."