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President Bush Honors Five At Black Music Month Reception

Five black artists were honored by President Bush in a tribute and a gospel concert at the White House on June 29. The ceremony was held at the East Room in recognition of Black Music Month. Bush signed a proclamation and singled five artists out for special honors: gospel singer Shirley Caesar, gospel TV host Bobby Jones, jazz singers Lena Horne and Nancy Wilson and jazz vibraphonist Lionel Hampton.

Bush noted that Hampton performed at the inaugural ball for President Truman in 1949 and had been to the White House previously as guests of Presidents Johnson, Nixon and Reagan. "Presidents come and go, but there's only one 'vibes' president of the United States," Bush said. Hampton attended the ceremony but was confined to a wheelchair.

"You trace the roots of black American music, you arrive at the same place – with a people held in bondage, denied schooling and kept away from opportunity," Bush said. "Yet out of all that suffering came the early spirituals, some of the sweetest praise ever lifted up to heaven. In those songs, humanity will always hear the voice of hope in the face of injustice."