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White House Gospel Performance: Aretha Franklin, Michelle Williams "Say Yes" With Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland

by Kimberley Richards   Apr 15, 2015 16:04 PM EDT

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Last night, April 14, the White House kicked off a celebration of gospel music as part of the "In Performance at the White House" series. The celebration included performances by Aretha Franklin and Michelle Williams, who performed her song "Say Yes" that featured Beyoncé and Kelly Rowland. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have expressed their excitement for the gospel event.

According to the Associated Press, President Obama relayed that gospel music has helped shape America.

"It still has an unmatched power to strike the deepest chord in all of us, touching people of all faiths and of no faith," the President said, according to the AP.

He also declared that gospel songs are the "songs of hope."

"Hope that we might rise above our failures and disappointments," he added. "Hope that we might receive his redemption. Hope that, in lifting our voices together, we, too, might one day reach the Promised Land."

Williams performed "Say Yes" and shared her excitement over Twitter.

"Can't believe I shared the stage with music legends at a night of gospel music at the @WhiteHouse! Incredible moments to remember FOREVER!" Williams tweeted.

She also tweeted:

"...the White House was definitely rocking for the Lord last night! Everyone said YES! Check out my performance June 26th on PBS and TVONE."

The president talked about the history and influence of gospel. He noted that the genre is rooted in spirituals sung by slaves, who were forbidden to read or write.

"Songs were where their dreams took flight, where they expressed faith and love, as well as pain and fear and unimaginable loss," Obama said, according to the AP. "They sang songs of liberation, if not for their bodies in this world, then for their souls in the next."

Last night's concert is scheduled to air June 26, according to the AP. Check out the video for "Say Yes" below.

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