Camden Native Plucks for the Obamas - NBC 10 Philadelphia

Camden Native Plucks for the Obamas

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    Camden Native Plucks for the Obamas
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    Eric Lewis, a.k.a. ELEW, performed for the Obamas at the White House.

    The Obamas made good on their campaign slogan of “change” Tuesday night, but it didn’t deal with anything that would get Fox News anchors hot and bothered. Rather, the First Family played host to the White Houses’ first-ever poetry and music bash with some Philly-area flare.

    The night featured poems, spoken word acts (one by “Darth Vader” himself, James Earl Jones) and music by local guy Eric Lewis.

    Lewis, a.k.a. ELEW, grew up in Camden, New Jersey where his grandmother, mother and two aunts all lived in the same house and taught piano. Lewis fell in love with piano rather than get caught up in Camden gang life.

    His passion can be seen by the amount of awards that’s he’s earned. He won the Thelonious Monk International Piano Competition, one of the most prestigious piano competitions in the world. He was also recognized by The Sundance Channel as one of “The Next Garde” -- one of only 12 people who “are changing the cultural landscapes.”

    Lewis opened the night with his own piece called “Love Letters” accompanied by acoustic bass player Esperanza Spalding. The duo also filled the air with musical transitions between the spoken word sets, according to The Washington Post.

    The highlight was when Lewis went solo. He showcased his version of The Killers “Mr. Brightside.”

    Lewis even got a chance to talk to First Lady Michelle Obama who knew some of his work from the Web. She told Lewis that he needed to do one of his signature moves – reach into his piano and play the strings on the inside. (Check out the embedded video to see this move for yourself.)

    "I can't tell you how special it is that Michelle Obama asked me to go inside the piano. For her to be that cool and open-minded to request it shows me some people get it, and some people don't. The one that got it happens to be the First Lady,” Lewis said.