The 2010 White House Music Series officially kicked off Tuesday afternoon with a workshop in advance of the evening's concert, which celebrated music from the Civil Rights Movement.
The musical events had been originally scheduled for Wednesday, but were switched at the last minute because of weather forecasts, forcing performers and press to scramble in order to be there.
The workshop was was titled "Music that Inspired a Movement," and about 75 high school-aged students from all around the country filled the seats.
On stage, Motown legend Smokey Robinson led an ensemble cast of performers that included Grammy award-winners Yolanda Adams, Blind Boys of Alabama, and members of the a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock.
Participants explained the importance of music to the non-violent civil rights protests of the early 1960's, both because it bonded protesters and it helped assuage fears. Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Rutha Harris, and Charles Neblett, all participants in the Civil Rights Movement, spoke of being jailed for their protests, of marching with slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and of the power of music to unite the cause.