President Joe Biden, first lady Jill Biden and a couple thousand fans enjoyed a performance by musical legend Elton John at the White House on Friday. The British singer performed from the South Lawn on an elaborate stage set up specifically for him and his team.
Elton John got emotional as the US President surprised the iconic musician with a National Humanities Medal. John looked visibly shocked as the president addressed the crowd. “Tonight is my great honour, and I mean this sincerely, to present the National Humanities Medal to Sir Elton John,” Biden said.
“The president and the first lady will celebrate the vast contributions Sir Elton has made across his lifetime as an artist and an advocate,” spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters ahead of the concert.
She said the crowd would include some 2,000 fans including teachers, front-line workers, nurses, mental health advocates, students and LGBTQ+ advocates.
Pete, Chasten and Elton John at the White House pic.twitter.com/OnpafOJPJo
— Gah! I'm just a fan sharing tidbits️ (@petetidbits) September 24, 2022
— Britney Stan #HoldMeCloser (@BritneyTheStan) September 24, 2022
Congratulation @eltonofficial on receiving the National Humanities Award. Your efforts to end HIV/AIDS have been passion driven and I am so thankful that it has been recognized. #EltonJohn #HumanitiesAward #HIV #WhiteHouse pic.twitter.com/S4aIaqumkL
— JustRaiHere (@JustRaiHere) September 24, 2022
The performance was paid for by A&E Networks and The History Channel, which is part of A&E, and will air at a later date. A&E Networks is a joint venture of Disney-ABC Television Group and Hearst.
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The performance is called “A Night When Hope and History Rhyme,” drawn from a poem by Irish writer Seamus Heaney. Biden regularly quotes Heaney and is an aficionado of Irish sayings and poetry.
Biden has a special relationship with John’s music. He wrote in his 2017 memoir “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship and Purpose” about singing “Crocodile Rock” to his son Beau as a child and again as an adult when Beau was dying from cancer.