Country Music's Heritage Celebrated at White House

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THE WHITE HOUSE -- Country, or "hillbilly" music as it was known in the early 1900s, is perhaps more popular than ever.

Several country music artists were invited to perform at the White House Monday night as part of an ongoing music series to celebrate America's heritage.

Students from several Washington, D.C., area schools were a part of the audience that watched performances by country music legends Kris Kristofferson and Lyle Lovett, along with country newcomer Darius Rucker.

"How much are them candies they asked her, how much have you got, she replied. We've only a penny between us. Them's two for a penny she lied," Kristofferson sang.

Country music is known for its simple yet raw storytelling about life's ordinary moments.

"I've always been drawn to country music because of the narrative quality in country songs. Because the songs tell a story traditionally," Lovett said.

President Obama said country music reminds us that America is the place where you can make it if you try.

"It's a unique history that ties together many threads of our immigrant heritage like the Irish fiddle, the German dulcimer, the Italian mandolin, the Spanish guitar, and the West African banjo -- into music that is truly made in America," he said.

Rucker, who's known by many fans as "Hootie" for the time he spent with the modern rock band "Hootie and the Blowfish," shared advice with students about their journeys to fame.

"I was told so many times being from South Carolina, I had no chance of making it in music," he said. "I was told that a million times. I was told by everybody it just wasn't going to happen."

"You know, I just didn't believe that. I believe that I was pretty good at what I did and we could go and make it," he said.

The country music concert was the seventh in a series known as "In Performance at the White House" hosted by the first family.

Mrs. Obama saud it's important for students to visit the White House and hear from artists who followed their dreams and achieved success.

"No matter what sparks your imagination, I want you to take that energy and then follow it," she told students. "Follow it with every little piece of energy that you have because whatever you do, it does take work."

"There's not a greater blessing in life than to get to do things you like to do and when you love doing what you're doing, I think you always try your best," Lovett said.

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Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.