This week marks the birthday of Duke Ellington. The American composer, pianist, and big band maverick was born on April 29, 1899 in Washington, D.C.
This photograph was taken on his seventieth birthday in 1969, when Ellington received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Nixon in the East Room of the White House.
-from the Nixon Library
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
Photos: Jimmy Carter with Willie Nelson and his guests outside of the Old Executive Building. 4/25/78; President Carter on stage at a performance by country western singer, Willie Nelson at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. 9/13/80.
The two remain friends today.
-from the Carter Library
Marian Anderson was born on this day, February 27, 1897. The internationally renowned contralto opera singer sang the National Anthem at President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration in 1961.
Twenty two years earlier, Anderson’s concert at the Lincoln Memorial marked a watershed moment in the civil rights movement. Learn more about the concert, and the friendship between Anderson and Eleanor Roosevelt here.
Photo: President Kennedy with Marian Anderson and her accompanist Franz Rupp in the Oval Office, White House. 3/22/62.
-from the JFK Library
Johnny Cash was born on this day, February 26, 1932.
In honor of Cash’s birthday, here’s a photo of Johnny and June Carter Cash with President Jimmy Carter in the Oval Office of the White House.
Photo: Jimmy Carter and Johnny Cash and family. 6/14/77.
-from the Carter Library
What’s your favorite Johnny Cash song?
Wish-I-was-there history for the day: Dave Brubeck at the White House
Dave Brubeck and George Wein (founder of the Newport Jazz Festival) at the piano performing for Duke Ellington’s 70th birthday at the White House. A U.S. Marine Band member plays bass in the foreground.
At the party, Duke Ellington was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Richard Nixon in the East Room. It was the first of Nixon’s Presidency.
Other guests included John B. “Dizzy” Gillespie, Benny Goodman, Mahalia Jackson, and Lou Rawls. You can see the complete list of attendees and performers in President Nixon’s Daily Diary from April 29, 1969.
More photos honoring Dave Brubeck and other jazz legends from the Nixon Library here
“My choice early in life was either to be a piano player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.”
Harry S Truman
Bacall and Truman are at the National Press Club canteen, February 12, 1945.
Lauren Bacall and Harry S. Truman