Paisley and Krauss Perform as Obamas Bring Country and Bluegrass to White House

By Joe Heim
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, July 22, 2009

If he's played a fancier room, Brad Paisley doesn't remember it. And certainly not one with as much history.

The country music star joined bluegrass singer Alison Krauss on Tuesday afternoon for an hour-long concert and songwriting workshop in the grand State Dining Room at the White House. Beneath a George P.A. Healy portrait of Abraham Lincoln and the shimmering lights of a massive gold chandelier, the pair traded stories, songs and sly asides for an audience of 120 or so music students from middle and high schools in Virginia, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

Following an introduction from Education Secretary Arne Duncan ("Don't be alarmed, I promise not to sing"), here's some of what the kids learned:

Paisley: "In my first song I rhymed 'do' with 'do.' I've since learned you're never supposed to do that. Although Alan Jackson does it all the time."

Krauss: "How has life changed since becoming a star? Well, you can't go out without a shower anymore."

Paisley: "Music is like being up to bat. You can have all the support in the world, but it's up to you where you go."

Krauss: "Enjoy what your voice sounds like."

Paisley: "My grandfather told me, you learn how to play this guitar and you'll never be lonely."

When one young man in the crowd offered that his guitar was "the best girlfriend I ever had," Paisley laughed and responded, "It may always be."

Krauss, joined by guitarist Dan Tyminski, performed "Angelina Baker" and the hymn "I Know Who Holds Tomorrow." Paisley performed "Born on Christmas Day," a song he wrote as a 12-year-old, and "Letter to Me," about what he wished he had known in high school.

Almost stealing the show was Sal LaRosa, a Nashville fifth-grader who performed his own song, "The Girl in the Hallway," to a jubilant reception from his assembled colleagues, including the two stars. Pretty cool.

"This is a day you'll remember for the rest of your life," moderator Jay Orr, from the Country Music Hall of Fame, told the kids, though he could easily have been speaking to Paisley, 36, and Krauss, 37.

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