The Stronger singer performed at Obama’s second inauguration back in 2013, but it wasn’t the first time she’d met the politician. He was just a junior senator when they first crossed paths at an event where she was chosen to introduce him to the Senate, as organisers pointed out both had won Grammys – Kelly for her single Since U Been Gone and album Breakaway while Obama scooped the Best Spoken World Album for Dreams from My Father.
Having already given a speech to the audience and “nailed it”, Kelly tried to keep up her confidence when welcoming the junior senator, however her memory failed her as soon as she took to the stage.
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“I get up there, complete panic sets in because I can’t remember what that fake Grammy is called, I can’t remember what the book is because it had just come out... And I can’t remember his name, but I am pretty sure it rhymes with ‘sama,’” she recalled to U.S. talk show host Seth Meyers. “I completely butchered it, I literally had the mic, after I just nailed it, and I’m like... (mumbles nonsensical words). I swear to God, I wanted to die. I wanted to fall down and pretend I had a stroke – I would’ve faked some horrible thing.”
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To make matters worse, she accidentally muttered Dances With Father as the album title, as all she could think of was the Luther Vandross song. Feeling awkward and wanting to apologise to Obama, Kelly rushed backstage to find him after her mishap only to emerge unsuccessful. She was reassured that she’d “never see him again”, only for him to eventually become President.
But Kelly still isn’t convinced on his Grammy-winning talent, joking: “(People were saying after my first speech) ‘Oh my God, you did so amazing. There’s this senator and he’s a new senator... and he’s won a Grammy,’ and I was like, ‘What, he sings? That’s amazing!’” she recalled. “And they were like, ‘No, he won a Best Spoken Word Album.’ I was like, that’s not real... That sounds made up!"
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