Jazz Performers in the White House
1961 - 1992 by Administration
Even though jazz was highly popular in the 1920's and 1930's in the U. Street area, the earliest performance of jazz in the White House did not occur until November 19, 1962. (To understand this lag in the establishment's acceptance of jazz, click here.) This first performance was during a children's program in the East Room by the Paul Winter Jazz Sextet. Since the Kennedy administration, most Presidents have increasingly used jazz as a White House entertainment staple. During the Johnson administration, Pearl Bailey became the first jazz performer in the White House to appear before an adult audience. Later, President Gerald Ford established jazz performances as a unique form of American entertainment for state dignitaries. Jimmy Carter's administration was responsible for creating the first large-scale jazz production on the White House's South Lawn. This event, which marked the 25th Anniversary of the Newport Jazz festival, included 800 guests and over 50 jazz musicians. Although jazz had been an important American art form for more than half a century, President Carter's public identification of jazz was deeply significant. Below is a list of jazz artists who appeared at the White House.
John F. Kennedy 1961-1963
Lyndon B. Johnson 1963-1969
Richard Nixon 1969-1974
Gerald Ford 1974-1977
James Carter 1977-1981
Invited to the 25th anniversary celebration of the Newport Jazz Festival , 6/18/78
*Indicates performers at the Anniversary Festival Celebration
Ronald Reagan 1981-1989
George Bush 1989-1993
William J. Clinton 1993-
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