London, Feb 11 (ANI): President Barack Obama transformed the White House ballroom into a concert hall as the venue played host to a civil rights music night.
Speaking on the occasion Obama, the first black to occupy the President's office said civil rights-era protest songs inspired his election.
"The civil rights movement was a movement sustained by music," the Telegraph quoted Obama, as saying.
He said activists across the country were inspired by music, which had also paved the way toward a more just America that allowed him to make history in 2008 with his election.
He added: "Tonight, we celebrate the music of the movement."
The celebration originally scheduled for Wednesday, but faced with another major winter storm the White House moved the concert ahead by a day.
Queen Latifah's rendition of the Marvin Gaye classic What's Going On and Yolanda Adams's spirited rendition of Sam Cooke's A Change Is Gonna Come were early highlights of the event.
Smokey Robinson, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez were on the schedule of performers, along with Natalie Cole, Jennifer Hudson, John Legend, John Mellencamp, Seal and the Blind Boys of Alabama.
Morgan Freeman, who read excerpts from historical works throughout the event, referred to the lyrics Mr Obama invoked during his election-night victory speech in Chicago's Grant Park.
He said: "A long time coming," and added, "I wish I could sing."
Obama said: "It's hard to sing when times are rough...The hymns helped ... advance the cause of the nation." (ANI)