‘Showtime at the Apollo’ Obama croons, briefly

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NEW YORK (AP)—President Barack Obama got some high-profile fundraising help last week from director Spike Lee and musicians Al Green and India.Arie.

Obama was in New York Jan. 20 for a high-dollar fundraiser at director Spike Lee’s home and a campaign event at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem, with performances by Green, India.Arie and composer Lin-Manuel Miranda.

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CROONER-IN-CHIEF—President Barack Obama sings before speaking at a campaign event, Jan. 19, at the Apollo Theater in the Harlem. (AP Photo Haraz N. Ghanbari)

It was the first visit by a sitting president to the landmark theater.

About 40 people were expected at the Lee fundraiser, with tickets costing $35,800 per person, while tickets to the Apollo event started at $100 per person, according to a Democratic official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the events had not been announced.

The president took a brief and unexpected turn as a soul singer at the Apollo, crooning a bar from an Al Green classic and then joking that he hadn’t been ushered offstage.

Obama stepped to the podium and veered from prepared remarks to thank Green for warming up the crowd. Apparently not content with simply praising him, Obama suddenly launched into Green’s “Let’s Stay Together,” starting with the vibrato “I” and pausing for enthusiastic applause before finishing up with the line “so in love with you.”

Obama said his staff didn’t believe he’d really do it.

Then he joked that the Sandman hadn’t come out—a reference to Sandman Sims, the tap dancer who chased unpopular acts offstage at the Apollo for decades.

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