early and often

Michelle Obama Isn’t Enthusiastic About the President’s Musical Endeavors

President Obama Joins Mourners At Funeral Of Rev. Clementa Pinckney
Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Over the years, President Obama’s public crooning has been surprisingly well received, and his decision to end his eulogy for Charleston shooting victim Reverend Clementa Pinckney by singing “Amazing Grace” was no exception. It was called historic, “powerful,” and “breathtaking,” but the New York Times reports that two of his biggest supporters were skeptical at first. White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett said that while heading to Andrews Air Force Base on Marine One, the president warned her and Michelle Obama that he might sing. Jarrett answered, “Hmm,” and the First Lady asked, “Why on earth would that fit in?” Later, she claimed they both ultimately “encouraged him to do whatever the spirit moved him to do,” and revealed that they had nothing to do with the 13-second pause before he started the song (which got its own 1,000-word write-up in The Atlantic). Jarrett says that when she asked Obama if he was deciding whether he should go for it, he said, “Oh no, I knew I was going to sing. I was just trying to figure out which key to sing it.”

First Lady Isn’t a Fan of President’s Singing