At Monday’s White House press briefing, Press Secretary Josh Earnest confirmed that the president and first lady hosted a “private event” on Saturday but despite social media evidence to the contrary, Earnest still refused to confirm if Prince performed at the glitzy gathering.
The one thing we do know is who footed the bill. Earnest confirmed that the Obamas were paying for the party — just a small fete for 500, nbd — with their own money, but he did not specify how much the first couple shelled out for the star-studded soiree.
When asked why the Obamas weren’t more transparent about a White House event with a guest list that included Fortune 500 CEOS and possibly lobbyists, Earnest said that “opening up their home to guests” on a Saturday night is an “appropriate thing” for the Obamas to do.
This would all be a lot easier if the White House flipped on those famous colored-up lights, illuminating the North Portico in purple and signaling to the world that Prince, yes the Prince, was jamming inside the executive mansion.
But when it comes to their private time, the Obamas rarely make things easy. As we reported last week, whispers of an intimate Prince concert to be held at 1600 Penn had been making the rounds since the Purple One announced his Washington tour stop just days in advance of his visit. All anyone knew was that the invites were near impossible to snag — the guest list more exclusive than a state dinner.
But more details have emerged, according to Page Six. So just who got in? White House faves Russell Wilson and Ciara (yeah, we were surprised too), plus rocker Jon Bon Jovi, James Taylor, Obama besties Eric Holder and Arne Duncan, Oprah besties Gayle King and Tyler Perry, ABC stars Connie Britton and Tracee Ellis Ross, Angela Bassett, fashion designer Naeem Khan, who designed the gown Mrs. Obama wore to that infamous first state dinner, uber D.C. philanthropist David Rubenstein, Ken Chenault, and, of course, the first daughters.
Golden-ticket holders were treated to a two-hour show featuring the Purple One’s greatest hits like “Kiss” and “Purple Rain” (natch). At one point Prince pulled Stevie Wonder, who’s also performed at the 1600 Penn. in the past, on stage to sing Wonder’s 1970 hit “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.” In true Obama form there was lots of dancing (no word on the food, which also in true Obama form could have been lacking).
Prior to the star-studded concert for 500, the White House would only confirm that the First Couple were “hosting a private party for friends and family” on Saturday night. There was no mention of 57-year-old rock star or his band, 3RDEYEGIRL, who’d already sold out two Sunday performances at the Warner Theatre. But one faint whiff of the VIP event came in the brief mention of “a small stage” set up on the South Lawn in a pool report sent Saturday afternoon.
The radio silence, though, is something the Obamas do pretty well. Remember at Mrs. O’s 50th birthday, guests were instructed to check their phones with their coats. We imagine this time they told Prince to leave his Little Red Corvette back in Los Angeles.