Al Roker on going to first lady’s 50th: ‘Literally a house party' at the White House
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There was a not-so-super-secret dance party going on at the most recognizable mansion in the nation’s capital Saturday night.
A birthday party to celebrate Michelle Obama's 50th birthday took place at the White House, and it was studded with celebrities, including Bill and Hillary Clinton, Stevie Wonder, Paul McCartney, Smokey Robinson, James Taylor, Gladys Knight and Herbie Hancock. Guests were treated to performances by Beyoncé and John Legend.
Among the 500 guests were TODAY's own Al Roker and his wife, ABC correspondent Deborah Roberts.
Speaking to the TODAY team by phone Monday morning, Roker described the event as "literally a house party that happened to be at the White House.
"Sasha and Malia had invited a lot of their friends, so there were a lot of young people," Roker reported.
Over the past year, numerous rumors circulated about Beyoncé agreeing to perform at the party. Beyoncé has a longstanding relationship with the Obamas; she serenaded the couple during the president’s first inaugural ball in 2009, and last year, she performed at his swearing-in ceremony at the Capitol. On Saturday her selections included "Single Ladies."
"At one point, while Beyoncé was performing, Paul McCartney was talking, or was sort of grooving, with Stevie Wonder," Roker told the TODAY anchors Monday, comparing the sight to "Ebony and Ivory," a duet by the two superstars that hit No. 1 in 1982.
Before the bash, its planner-in-chief, President Obama, kept details under extremely tight wraps, revealing very little about the event or even what he planned to give his wife.
“Not even the NSA knows that,” he told People magazine last week. He was just as vague with other reporters, saying simply, "It's going to be a rolling birthday weekend."
The gala for Mrs. Obama, who hit the mid-century mark on Friday, promised “Snacks & Sips & Dancing & Dessert,” according to a leaked invitation. Guests were encouraged to wear comfy shoes and eat before they arrived.
Although White House staffers were extraordinarily tight-lipped about party details, President Obama did reveal one birthday gift he gave his wife. Earlier this month, the first lady stayed an extra week in Hawaii after the family left their 15-day island vacation to return home.
As the party began to wind down Saturday, musician Smokey Robinson said, "We were here for the first lady's birthday and that was the highlight, and the president gave a wonderful, wonderful speech about her, and then Beyoncé performed, and wow." Fellow musician Herbie Hancock called the event "a beautiful message from husband to wife."
The dancing went on until 3 a.m. "I actually got to boogie a little with the first lady," Roker said Monday.
TODAY's Rick Schindler contributed to this story, first published January 18 at 3:30 p.m. ET.