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Barack Obama hails Ray Charles at tribute concert

U.S. President Barack Obama paid tribute to Ray Charles at a White House concert honouring the late musician on Wednesday night (24Feb16).
The American leader and his wife Michelle hosted performances of Charles’ songs from artists including Usher and Demi Lovato at the Smithsonian Salutes Ray Charles: In Performance at The White House event.
In his speech as host, Obama praised the Georgia On My mind singer, who lost his sight as a child, as one of his favourite artists of all time.
“Whatever genre of music he was playing, there was no mistaking his singular sound: that virtuoso piano playing that matched that one-of-a-kind voice,” he said.
“Ray Charles had the rare ability to collapse our weightiest emotions into a single note. He couldn’t see us, but we couldn’t take our eyes off of him.”
The concert was the 16th occasion during his time as President that Obama and his First Lady have hosted one of the musical tributes, and it will be the last before he leaves office in January next year (17).
Before the event, Michelle said it would be good to go out on a high celebrating Charles, who died in 2006.
“We’re going to have a lot of lasts coming up,” she told the Associated Press. “And this is the last of one of my favourite events of all time. So we figured we’ve got to go out with a bang, right?”
Other musicians who played included gospel singer/actress Yolanda Adams, soul singer Leon Bridges, R&B jazz musician Andra Day, singer-songwriter Anthony Hamilton, and Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard.
The hour-long concert is scheduled to be broadcast in the U.S. on Friday (26Feb16).

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