President Obama paid tribute — briefly and in song — to Memphis’ own Rev. Al Green at a fundraiser at the famous Apollo Theater in New York City Thursday evening.
Obama sang a line from Green’s classic 1970s soul hit, “Let’s Stay Together.” Not since Bill Clinton played the saxophone on the Arsenio Hall Show in 1992 has a national leader created such a musical stir.
“He was in the exact same key (as Green’s recording)”, Michael Orland, “American Idol” associate music director and vocal coach, told MTV. “To pull that out of the air, with everything perfectly in tune, I was really impressed.”
Green, the pastor of Full Gospel Tabernacle in Whitehaven, had just performed at the fundraiser and was in the audience.
“Don’t worry, Rev, I cannot sing like you,” Obama told him, “but I just wanted to show my appreciation.”
Green later told TMZ that he thought the president’s version was “terrific” and “he nailed it.”