~ Posted by Hazel Sheffield, January 24th 2012
Those who splashed out $200 for a ticket to the Democratic fundraiser at Harlem’s Apollo Theatre got more than they bargained for last Thursday, when President Obama unexpectedly sang the first line of the Reverend Al Green’s "Let’s Stay Together".
“I’m...so in love with you,” crooned the president, in surprisingly good voice, before grinning and admitting to the real Al Green, “I cannot sing like you.”
Still, it takes some nerve to break into song in front of nearly 1,400 supporters just moments after the Reverend's own performance. Obama laughed at the applause and pointed backstage. “Those guys didn’t think I would do it!”
It’s not the first time the president has serenaded his fans. During the 2008 election Obama sang a snatch from Aretha Franklin’s "Chain of Fools" to a crowd that included Franklin herself. That time, he told his audience, "I wasn't going to do that." His good-humoured performance on Thursday night was a welcome respite from the heated exchanges in the Republican debates, which hit Florida with more in-fighting last night.
Obama can add his vocal talents to a list of voter-friendly credentials which, lest we forget, also includes slow dancing with Michelle, walking the dog and playing basketball, alongside his professional achievements as a lawyer, orator and writer.
He’ll be hoping these extra-curricular activities will count against the latest ratings from Gallup, which show Obama’s approval average to be the lowest of any third-year president at 44.4%.
It's going to take more than a few seconds of soul music to turn his fortunes around before November 6th. But tonight, when the president gives the State of the Union address, Al Green's lyrics will offer a handy theme: “Let’s stay together…Whether times are good or bad/ Happy or sad.”
Hazel Sheffield's most recent piece for Intelligent Life was on Chairlift