Bill Clinton on the saxophone at the White House celebration of the Newport Jazz Festival. June 18, 1993.
The Newport Jazz Festival turns 60 this year! Today, the National Archives celebrates six decades of music with Jazz in the USA: On the 60th Anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival.
Journalist Soledad O’Brien moderates a panel discussion with George Wein, founder of the Newport Jazz Festival; Dan Morgenstern, author, archivist, and NEA Jazz Master; and jazz musicians Jonathan Batisteand Christian McBride. Film clips of the 1960 festival (from the holdings of the National Archives) will complement the discussion.
Join us today, Thursday, June 19 at 7 p.m. in the William McGowan Theater. Watch live online ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a5yVVsGFuaA) or in person (enter the National Archives Building through the Special Events entrance at Seventh Street and Constitution Avenue). More info here.
"…Pete Seeger, the folk singer. He lives not far from me near Beacon,
N.Y., and is loved by many people, young and old, who have enjoyed his music.”
-Eleanor Roosevelt, January 15, 1962
Eleanor Roosevelt and Pete Seeger shared a vision for a more equal world. In 1944, Pete was photographed singing for a racially integrated crowd at the opening of the Washington Labor Canteen, with Eleanor Roosevelt seated front and center. (Library of Congress photo)
-from the FDR Library
May 3, 1919 - January 27, 2014
Richard Nixon and the Piano
"Playing the piano is a way of expressing oneself that is perhaps even more fulfilling than writing or speaking… I think that to create great music is one of the highest aspirations man can set for himself."
-RN The Memoirs of Richard Nixon
Pictured: In 1969, President Nixon plays “Happy Birthday” on the piano for Duke Ellington.
-from the Nixon Library
Rock guitarist Peter Frampton was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee earlier this week. President Ford met Frampton, along with a group of son Steve Ford’s friends, in the Oval Office on September 8, 1976.
-from the Ford Library
"…Pete Seeger, the folk singer. He lives not far from me near Beacon, N. Y., and is loved by many people, young and old, who have enjoyed his music."
-Eleanor Roosevelt, January 15, 1962
Pete Seeger (1919-2014) was one of the Roosevelt Library’s iconic Hudson Valley neighbors. In 2008 Pete performed here as part of our Young Emerging Artists Show, teaching children to better the world through caring and song.
Eleanor Roosevelt and Pete Seeger shared a vision for a more equal world. In 1944, Pete was photographed singing for a racially integrated crowd at the opening of the Washington Labor Canteen, with Eleanor Roosevelt seated front and center.
Violinist Eugene Fodor provided after-dinner entertainment in the East Room of the White House.
Earlier in the year Fodor became the first person from outside of the Soviet Union to share the top honors at the Tchaikovsky International Competition in Moscow. “He also jogs four miles a day, is a scuba diver, a skier, and rides spirited horses. He obviously shares my enthusiasm for physical exercise,” President Ford observed in his introductory remarks. “I wish I shared even a little of his musicianship.”
Jazz legend Duke Ellington died on this day, May 24, 1974
On April 24, 1969, Ellington celebrated his 70th birthday at the White House where he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
The medal was presented by President Richard Nixon, who himself had played the piano since childhood. From the President’s remarks:
"When we think of freedom, we think of many things. But Duke Ellington is one who has carried the message of freedom to all the nations of the world through music, through understanding, understanding that reaches over all national boundaries and over all boundaries of prejudice and over all boundaries of language..
In the royalty of American music, no man swings more or stands higher than the Duke.”
Afterwards, the President played “Happy Birthday” on the piano for the Duke while guests at the White House sang along.
Edward Kennedy “Duke” Ellington
April 29, 1899 - May 24, 1974
Happy Birthday Willie Nelson!
“When I was in trouble in the White House or when I wanted to have some deep thoughts, I had a very high quality hi-fi player, and the number one thing I played was Willie Nelson songs. All the good things I did as a president, all the mistakes I made — you can blame half of that on Willie.”
-Jimmy Carter in an interview with Rolling Stone Magazine
President Carter on stage at a performance by country western singer, Willie Nelson at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. September 13, 1980. The two remain friends today.
-from the Carter Library
75,000 People Gather on the National Mall to Hear Marian Anderson Sing
On this day, April 9, 1939, Marian Anderson performs from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.
When Howard University invited her to perform in Washington, they approached the Daughters of the American Revolution about the use of their auditorium, Constitution Hall. The DAR’s rejection on the basis of Ms. Anderson’s skin color prompted First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt to publicly resign from the organization.
-from the FDR Library
1941: LBJ decides to run for Senate. His opponent will be W. Lee O’Daniel, better known as “Pappy” O’Daniel.
Pappy was a radio celebrity who became Texas Governor in 1939. Advertising for his company, Hillbillly Flour, he was well known for the slogan “Pass the Biscuits Pappy.” The music for “Beautiful Texas,” one of O’Daniel’s more popular tunes, is featured on the Texas State Library and Archives Commission website.
To learn more about Pappy, his political career, and involvement with Western Swing music, check out these pages from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission and Texas State Historical Association.