When Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder performed ‘Ebony and Ivory’ together for Barack Obama

4 August 2021, 17:14

Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder perform iconic ‘Ebony and Ivory’ song together at White House for Barack Obama
Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder perform iconic ‘Ebony and Ivory’ song together at White House for Barack Obama. Picture: YouTube
Hannah Lovejoy

By Hannah Lovejoy

Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder first recorded their iconic collaboration ‘Ebony and Ivory’ in 1981 and it was released the following year as part of Paul’s album Tug of War.

In a throwback video, Paul and Stevie are seen performing the legendary song at the White House for former US President Barack Obama in 2010.

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The performance was part of an experience titled Paul McCartney: In Performance at the White House - Paul performed several songs and a number of artists also took part and sang Paul’s music.

Stevie also performed his own version of Paul’s classic ‘We Can Work It Out’ - other tributes were made by Elvis Costello, Dave Grohl, Jack White, Faith Hill and The Jonas Brothers. Each performance highlighted the impact of Paul’s music across different genres and generations.

Taking place in 2010, the tribute concert celebrated the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Paul received the honour, it was presented by President Obama and he gave a speech highlighting many of Paul’s career achievements.

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“It’s hard to believe that it’s been nearly half a century since four lads from Liverpool first landed on our shores and changed everything overnight,” President Obama said

The former US leader also shared a story about the bass guitar that Paul played on stage that night. President Obama said that it was the same bass guitar that Paul played on The Ed Sullivan Show when The Beatles made their debut on U.S. television in 1964.

He continued: “The Beatles, they weren’t the first rockstars, they’d be the first to say that others had opened that door for them. But, they blew the walls down for everybody else.

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“In a few short years, they had changed the way that we listened to music, thought about music and performed music forever. They helped to lay the soundtrack for an entire generation - an era of endless possibility and of great change.

Paul McCartney at White House with Barack Obama
Paul McCartney at White House with Barack Obama. Picture: Getty

“And over the four decades since, Paul McCartney has not let up, touring the world with the band Wings or on his own, blocking everything from small halls to Super Bowls. He’s composed hundreds of songs over the years, with John Lennon, with others, or on his own.”

President Obama added that nearly 200 of Paul’s songs landed in the charts and stayed there for a cumulative total of 32 years.

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Paul was then invited onto the stage and he formally accepted the music award from President Obama. He mentioned that he was happy to receive the honour from the 44th President of the United States.

“Thank you very much, this is such a fantastic evening for me, I mean getting this prize would just be good enough but getting it from this president,” Paul explained.