*The White House became the Purple House for two hours on Saturday as Prince blessed the building with a private, no-press-allowed concert to celebrate African-American Music Appreciation Month.
Among the 500 guests in attendance were Stevie Wonder, “Selma” director Ava DuVernay, Rev. Al Sharpton, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his date, singer Ciara, artists Jon Bon Jovi and James Taylor, TV and film stars Tyler Perry, Connie Britton, Angela Bassett, Gayle King, Tracee Ellis Ross, fashion designer Naeem Khan and J.Crew’s Jenna Lyons.
Accurately captures the fun my sis and I had last night! Prince. Stevie. POTUS + FLOTUS. Massive amounts of dancing. pic.twitter.com/E81YbfNlt8
— Ava DuVernay (@AVAETC) June 14, 2015
The gig preceded Prince’s two shows at the Warner Theater on Sunday as part of his HITnRUN tour, during which he announces venues shortly before playing them. After the first announced show at the Warner Theatre sold out immediately, he added a later 11 p.m. gig the same night.
The White House had remained tight-lipped about the party, said to have been in the East Room where Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle and John Legend have performed in the past for PBS specials. Guests reportedly arrived at 9 p.m. and danced late into night.
According to Page Six, Prince brought Stevie Wonder onstage for a surprise duet of “Signed, Sealed, Delivered.” DJ Cassidy took over after the show and spun tunes. Also in attendance were American Express’ Ken Chenault, former Attorney General Eric Holder, Education Secretary Arne Duncan and National Security Advisor Susan Rice.
First daughters Sasha and Malia even showed up for this one.
And now, the politics…
WH official says it was a private party for Obamas friends and family. No hint of it on the president’s weekend press schedule. — Mark Knoller (@markknoller) June 15, 2015
White House reporters are mad that they weren’t invited, nor told in advance about the private concert.
According to Time.com, the event was not included on the President’s public schedule. A White House spokesman confirmed it after the fact, and most information about the event came from social media posts of celebrity guests.
During a regularly scheduled press briefing Monday, White House reporters grilled spokesman Josh Earnest over who exactly is paying for the party, and if it was done for political purposes – which means it must be available to the media.
Ernest said that the Obamas will personally foot the bill for the party.
“The point is that the President and First Lady—and I think most people across the country would acknowledge, that is an appropriate thing for the president and first lady to do,” Earnest said. “Which is to open their house up to guests for a private party on a Saturday night.”
Earnest also stressed that the event was not an official function.
“President and First Lady did hold a private party at the White House over the weekend, but given the private nature of that event I don’t have a lot of details to discuss from here,” he said.
Further, @PressSec says the President and Mrs Obama “reserve the right” to host private parties at the WH & “they did it on their own dime.”
— Mark Knoller (@markknoller) June 15, 2015