Singer Elton John will perform at the White House on Friday night, according to a statement from the White House.
A large tent is being erected on the South Lawn for the event, and construction began Monday, a White House official told CNN. About 2,000 guests have been invited to attend and the concert has been in the works for several months, the manager said.
John is performing at the White House for an evening called “A Night When Hope and History Rhyme,” a concert in collaboration with A&E Networks and The History Channel. The concert will be televised on a date to be determined, the manager said.
According to the statement, the event will “celebrate the unifying and healing power of music, celebrate the life and work of Sir Elton John and honor the everyday history makers in the audience, including teachers, nurses, frontline workers, mental health advocates, students, LGBTQ+ advocates and more.” .President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden will deliver remarks later in the evening.A&E Networks and The History Channel are paying for the event, according to the White House.
A White House official told CNN that John’s team had “expressed an interest in playing at the White House again on his behalf.” In 1998, John was invited by then President Bill Clinton to entertain then British Prime Minister Tony Blair at a State Dinner.
The title of Friday’s event comes from a line from Seamus Heaney’s poem “The Trojan Cure.” Biden has often cited Heaney as his favorite poet, and the president has used the line from the poem “when hope and history rhyme” several times throughout his political career, including in his acceptance speech at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.
The last stanza of the poem reads:
“That means someone is listening
Calling and birth cry
New life in due course.
It means once in a lifetime
That justice can rise
And hope and history rhyme.”
The bond between Biden and John was revealed in Biden’s 2017 memoir, “Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose.” Biden wrote that he listened to John’s music with his sons, Beau and Hunter Biden, and years later, when Beau was sick with brain cancer, Biden sang the artist’s songs to him in the hospital.
John will be performing at Nationals Park on Saturday night.