WASHINGTON — Michelle Obama says gospel music is a "ray of hope" that fueled her love of music in general.
"It's what helps connect us to God, to that higher power," the first lady said Tuesday at a White House-arranged gospel music workshop for students from around the country. "For so many, when times have darkened, when there's struggle, gospel music is that ray of hope and it gives you that strength."
The workshop preceded a gospel music concert set for Tuesday night at the White House. Aretha Franklin, Lyle Lovett and Darlene Love are among the top recording artists on the evening's lineup.
The first lady said her earliest memories of being exposed to music involve gospel, and that it made her want to start piano lessons at age 4.
"I didn't keep it up," she said.
The concert is the latest in the "In Performance at the White House" series that is broadcast by PBS television stations nationwide. It will be streamed live on the White House website, http://www.WhiteHouse.gov/live , and broadcast nationwide by PBS on June 26.
President Barack Obama is scheduled to make brief remarks about gospel's role in American music before the show foot-tapping, heart-pumping show begins.
"There's nothing like hearing a choir sing an old gospel track," Mrs. Obama said. "When you hear that, it gets your feet tapping and your heart pumping."
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