Alumnus Kurt Elling Performs at White House

Posted on November 25th, 2009 by

Kurt Elling is a 1989 graduate of Gustavus

Kurt Elling is a 1989 graduate of Gustavus

Gustavus Adolphus College alumnus and Grammy nominated jazz vocalist Kurt Elling has toured the world, performing to critical acclaim in Europe, the Middle East, South America, Asia, and Australia, and at jazz festivals and concert halls across North America. Now Elling can add the White House to that list.

Elling performed in front of President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their 350 guests at a State Dinner on Tuesday, Nov. 24. Elling was one of the night’s featured entertainers along with singer Jennifer Hudson, the United States Marine Band, and the National Symphony Orchestra with conductor Marvin Hamlisch.

Traditionally, a state dinner in the United States is a formal dinner hosted by the President and held in the State Dinning Room of the White House in honor of a foreign head of state. Tuesday’s State Dinner was held in honor of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife, Gursharan Kaur.

The guest list for the event included Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Secretary of the Department of Energy and former Nobel Conference speaker Steven Chu, anchor of the CBS Evening News Katie Couric, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, retired Gen. Colin Powell, and film director Steven Spielberg,

Elling was not the only Gustavus graduate invited to attend the State Dinner. 2003 Gustavus alumna and deputy press secretary to First Lady Michelle Obama, Semonti Mustaphi Stephens was also on the guest list.

Elling graduated from Gustavus in 1989 and performed at the College as recently as Oct. 10 of this year. He has received a total of eight Grammy nominations and has been named Male Vocalist of the Year four times by the Jazz Journalists Association.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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