The last baritone to serve as President of the USA

The last baritone to serve as President of the USA


norman lebrecht

February 02, 2020

President Barack Obama sings Amazing Grace at the funeral of South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney.

Remember this? It was five years and a whole constellation away.



  • Margaret says:

    Ahh, the good old days, when I wasn’t ashamed of our leader…

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    The problem with democracy when voting is only voluntary is that all the politically minded people of all extremes get organised and turn up in voting booths. Those who are moderate and not particularly political do not bother to vote. Sometimes it turns out alright, but other times it leads to regrettable results.

    • geebee says:

      and the U.S. is encumbered by a process known as ‘electoral college’ which can be at odds with the popular vote- as witnessed in this last presidential election

      • Stuart says:

        From Pro & Con: Pro: If the election were based on popular vote, it would be possible for a candidate to receive the highest number of popular votes without actually obtaining a majority. This happened with President Nixon in 1968 and President Clinton in 1992, when both men won the most electoral votes while receiving just 43% of the popular vote. The existence of the Electoral College precluded calls for recounts or demands for run-off elections. The electoral process can also create a larger mandate to give the president more credibility; for example, President Obama received 51.3% of the popular vote in 2012 but 61.7% of the electoral votes. In 227 years, the winner of the popular vote has lost the electoral vote only five times. This proves the system is working.

        Con: There are over 300 million people in the United States, but just 538 people decide who will be president. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than one million votes, yet still lost the election on electoral votes. Even President-elect Donald Trump, who benefitted from the system, stated after the 2016 election that he believes presidents should be chosen by popular vote: “I would rather see it where you went with simple votes. You know, you get 100 million votes and somebody else gets 90 million votes and you win.” Just as in 2000 when George W. Bush received fewer nationwide popular votes than Al Gore, Donald Trump will serve as the President of the United States despite being supported by fewer Americans than his opponent.

        • music lover says:

          Trump received nearly three million votes less than. Clinton 2.9 million to be more exact. Plus another seven million who voted for other than Trump or Clinton.


      This is very true! People in democracy have the duty to vote.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Mustafa writes: “Those who are moderate and not particularly political do not bother to vote.”

      No, this isn’t really particularly true. The US system allows (in most states), the party voters to choose the candidates rather than the party members. And the candidates have strong incentives to move to the centre, where elections are mostly won and lost.

      Britain, on the other hand, has moved to a system in which the party leadership is chosen by the most committed party members, and has seen the party leadership move more to the extremes.

  • Mathieu says:

    I’m not crying you’re crying

  • MacroV says:

    Obama’s finest moment.

  • Patrick says:

    It takes a humble man to sing.

  • Dante says:

    This is how a leader brings the decent people of a country together. The others, the racists, the xenophobes, the sexists, the antigay and transphobes, the religious and gun nuts who thrive in hate and division, can stay in their corner.

    This is the America that the world loves and respects. Right now, the others are being louder and are abusing their power, but we know they will not prevail.

  • Jackie says:

    Love this man

  • John of Ghent says:

    A master of the contrived performance.

  • Westfan says:

    Now we have a person who doesn’t even know the words to the national anthem. A national embarrassment.

  • sam says:

    Not bad for a white man.

    (I mean, really, he is as white as he is black, “self identification” be damned.)

  • Ravi Narasimhan says:

    The dislike-bots are on overdrive.

    What a contrast between we had and what we have.

    • Not a MAGAt says:

      Yes, the bots have been busy again. I always find it comical to wake up and see dozens of thumbs down where there had previously been only a few. We know those aren’t votes from actual readers. For anyone new to this blog, just because you see 66 down votes on the first comment doesn’t mean there are actually 66 people here who approve of tRump. His people always cheat, even with unimportant stuff like this comment section.

      I’m curious to see if they’ll notice this one…

    • sam says:

      Not even bots will bother to visit classical music sites, there aren’t enough classical music fans to count; we can’t even sway orchestra strikes.

      • Hmus says:

        And yet they are here, prominently, even oif “bot” amplified – the amount of sheer ill-will and hatred on this site is entirely alien to people who actually appreciate the human spirit of concert music.

  • Fred Funk says:

    We almost elected an Alto. She married a sax player that blew her off, for an intern. Well, she lost that election. It’s been a hard truth for her to swallow.

    • Hmus says:

      correction – she won. The electoral college was gamed, and critical recounts were quashed by a handful of local Republican-appointed judges.

  • Charles Clark-Maxwell says:

    The only think President O. got wrong was succession planning. He was just too confident that old Hillary would win.

    Lovely clip – thanks

  • Doug says:

    Obama gave a good show with black people. Trump actually does things to help them.

    Talk about bots, you leftists are ALL mental bots and would not even look at this.

    • SSD says:

      Nice try, Doug, but we recognize pandering when we see it. Trump used Johnson’s case to politically boost himself and was widely criticized for it, because he is not anything close to a symbol of progressive justice reform.

      He famously called for the death penalty for 5 teenage boys who were wrongly convicted, even after he knew they were wrongly convicted.

      He is also behind the detention centers that are currently holding migrant children in unsanitary and inhumane conditions.

      He has promoted police brutality and attacked activist and former San Francisco 49ers player Colin Kaepernick for protesting police brutality.

      FYI, I’m not a mental bot. I’m a retired professional orchestral musician and I’m very distressed about the harm this president is causing.

      • Arturo T says:

        How about you offer some proof instead of mouthing slogans. Sad.

        • SSD says:

          Mouthing slogans? What slogans? I need to offer proof of what? This is all part of the public record. We remember when they happened. We also remember when he said there were good people on the side of white supremacists, which is understandable, since his father was an active member of the KKK. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.

          Saying “sad” really isn’t a cogent argument.

        • Hmus says:

          Well, how about the proof being that the 5 teenage boys’ convictions were overturned – aftyer YEARS in prison? At the cost of 40 some million to the city for wrongful conviction. A wrongful conviction urged and abetted by a full-page ad in the NYT taken out by Donald Trump? And one for which he has never apologized?

          You working for Rupert Murdoch, or rasPutin or what?

    • Hmus says:

      Oh yeah, just look up his family’s real estate dealings in Blatimore – slumlords. Don’t be a clown for whoever has suckered you into it.

  • NYCgirl says:

    This was from a funeral service. For a State Senator, who along with his fellow churchgoers, was assassinated after he welcomed their assassin into their house of worship.Those who use their commentS on this site to Obama-bash should be ashamed of their complete and total disregard for their fellow humans.