Last night, PBS aired “Paul McCartney: In Performance At The White House” which featured live performances of several artists singing famous McCartney tunes as well as a mini-concert by Sir Paul himself. The musical tribute was in celebration of the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song award being presented to Sir Paul by President Obama.
Among the special tributes by performers including Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl, Jack White, Faith Hill and The Jonas Brothers, was a special performance by Stevie Wonder. Stevie first performed his own version of “We Can Work It Out” and then later was joined by Paul onstage to sing their 1980s hit “Ebony and Ivory.”
The song was originally released in 1982 and spent seven weeks at number one on the Billboard charts according to Wikipedia. Almost 30 years later, the song about racial harmony had even more significance as McCartney and Wonder performed it at the White House before the first African-American President in the United States.
McCartney commented in an interview with the AP:
“One of the highs was singing ‘Ebony and Ivory’ with Stevie because we’d never done it live together, so that was great. To sing it live together for the very first time with the first black president there, it suddenly gave a great significance to the song….To sing it with Stevie in front of President Obama was very emotional.”
Watch President Obama’s speech for McCartney below
When accepting the award, McCartney said: “This is such a fantastic evening for me. I mean, getting this prize would just be good enough, but getting it from this president…” which resulted in cheers and applause from the audience.
Paul McCartney’s girlfriend, Nancy, accompanied him to the show and McCartney’s children, Stella, Mary and James were sitting in the second row behind their father.
Visit PBS’s official page for more information about the show and an exclusive interview with Paul at this link:
Performances in order of appearance on the PBS Special:
1) Paul McCartney – Got to Get You Into My Life
2) Stevie Wonder – We Can Work It Out
3) Jonas Brothers – Drive My Car
4) Jerry Seinfeld comedy routine
5) Jack White – Mother Nature’s Son
6) Faith Hill – The Long and Winding Road
7) Corinne Bailey Rae & Herbie Hancock – Blackbird
8 ) Elvis Costello – Penny Lane
9) Emmylou Harris – For No One
10) Lang Lang – Celebration (instrumental from Standing Stone)
11) Dave Grohl – Band on the Run
12) Paul McCartney & Stevie Wonder – Ebony and Ivory
13) President Obama’s dedication speech
14) Paul McCartney – Michelle
15) Paul McCartney – Eleanor Rigby
16) Paul McCartney – Let It Be
17) Paul McCartney – Hey Jude
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July 29, 2010 at 8:58 pm
I am sure I saw Stevie join him onstage circa 1989,Flowers in the Dirt at the LA Forum and they sang this together
July 30, 2010 at 8:44 am
Bill, You are correct. They performed the song in November, 1989. I guess Paul forgot!
July 30, 2010 at 6:49 am
Here’s hoping a commercially released DVD of the event will be forthcoming soon.
July 30, 2010 at 8:09 am
This was not the first time Paul and Stevie played “Ebony and Ivory” together. Stevie sat in at one of Paul’s concerts in 1989 to do this song.
August 6, 2010 at 6:15 pm
OMG!!!!! I’m so proud to have lived to see this. I hope John was watching this and is proud as hell. Thanks John, Paul, George and Ringo for EVERYTHING that you guys did and how you changed My world!!!!
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