Lifting Their Voices to the Lord

Hands were clapping and feet were (gingerly) stomping in the East Room of the White House yesterday as President Bush welcomed gospel singers Erica and Tina Campbell of the group Mary Mary, Donnie McClurkin and Smokie Norful to celebrate Black Music Month.

The singers each performed two songs, with the president and first lady Laura Bush nodding along. "Let history record you had me jumpin' in my seat," Bush said afterward.

The compliment wasn't just lip service -- the president smiled, clapped and mouthed the words as McClurkin sang, "Our God is an awesome God. He reigns from Heaven above with wisdom, power and love."

Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.) were among the attendees, as Bush tipped his hat to innovators in jazz, gospel, the blues and rock, citing greats like Louis Armstrong, Lena Horne, Diana Ross and Ella Fitzgerald.

"One of the greatest black musicians to visit the White House was Dizzy Gillespie," Bush said. "He liked it so much here he became a write-in candidate in 1964. His platform included jazz in schools and Miles Davis as head of the CIA."

Over the crowd's laughter, he added, "I'm not making that up."

Jackson Jury Still Deliberating

The Michael Jackson jury spent six hours deliberating yesterday but went home without reaching a decision, as the number of journalists and onlookers continued to swell around the Santa Maria, Calif., courthouse, awaiting a verdict.

The 46-year-old pop singer took a couple of trips to a hospital over the weekend, his publicist, Raymone Bain, confirmed, and he was given muscle relaxants for back pain. "He's under a tremendous amount of stress right now," Bain said.

The only highlights for reporters were a brief (and unexplained) visit to the courthouse by Joe Jackson, the singer's father, and a news conference held by the Rev. Jesse Jackson (no relation), who is lending his support to the singer. A helicopter drowned out the reverend's first attempt at a statement, The Post's William Booth reports, so he gave it again.

Maybe It's Time to Go Cellular

Russell Crowe was arrested and charged yesterday after allegedly chucking a telephone at a Manhattan hotel concierge. According to the complaint, the Oscar-winning actor, 41, hit the Mercer Hotel employee "in the face and causing a laceration and substantial pain."

Crowe was arraigned on charges of second-degree assault, punishable by seven years, and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon -- in this case, the telephone.

"This arose because he was trying to get his wife [actress Danielle Spencer] on the phone in Australia," Crowe's lawyer, Gerald Lefcourt, told reporters.

His publicist, Robin Baum, said: "Words were exchanged and Crowe wound up throwing the phone against the wall. He regrets that he lost his temper but at no time did he assault anyone."

A Manhattan criminal court judge released Crowe on his own recognizance.

End Note

Elizabeth Edwards, wife of former vice presidential candidate John Edwards, has completed treatment for breast cancer, according to U.S. News & World Report's Paul Bedard. "She feels great, and her doctors are optimistic," says spokeswoman Kim Rubey.

-- Compiled by Chris Richards

from staff and wire reports

President Bush welcomes to the White House, from left, Erica and Tina Campbell, Smokie Norful and emcee Teresa Hairston on Monday.