SXSW announce President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama as Keynote Speakers‏

Presidential couple to give two speeches at the Austin, Texas based festival

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have been confirmed as guest keynote speakers for South-By-Southwest music festival (SXSW) 2016, it has been announced (Wednesday 2 March).

The President of The United States of America and his wife, Michelle, will take part at the internationally recognised event for the first time at two separate events, with Barack speaking at SXSW Interactive on March 11 and The First Lady at SXSW Music on March 16. It’s also the first time that a sitting President has attended the event in it’s 30 year history.

The festival has become known as one of the world’s premier spots to discover new music, new bands and new technologies and interactive concepts. President Obama will be in conversation with editor of The Texas Tribune, Evan Smith, talking about civic engagement in the 21st century.

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According to a press release, “…The President will call on the audience to apply their ideas and talents to make technology work for us – especially when it comes to tackling big challenges like increasing participation in the political process and fighting climate change. In the lead-up to the event, The Texas Tribune will also source questions for the discussion from its online audience.”

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Then, under a week later on March 16, Michelle Obama will be discussing the Let Girls Learn initiative, which seeks to help and break borders of education for young girls around the world. As part of Women’s History Month, Mrs Obama will address and make a call to action in supporting the 62 million girls that are out of school today.

“I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate our event’s 30th year than to welcome both the President and First Lady to SXSW,” says SXSW Co-founder Roland Swenson in the official statement. “As each new generation comes up at SXSW they look for ways they can be of service, and it’s important to reflect and support that message. President and Mrs. Obama’s visit here will inspire attendees to that purpose.”

Read more: Section Boyz and Formation to play NME SXSW showcase

Meanwhile, David Bowie‘s longterm producer Tony Visconti had also been announced as the keynote speaker for this year’s South-By-Southwest music festival (SXSW).

Visconti worked with Bowie throughout the late singer’s career, from his second album in 1969 to final album ‘Blackstar’. His keynote speech will take place on March 16.

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Last year’s keynote speaker at the US festival was rapper Snoop Dogg, with Lady Gaga and Dave Grohl giving talks the two years prior.

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Following Bowie’s passing, Visconti described his final album ‘Blackstar’ as a “parting gift” to fans.

Visconti released a message saying: “He always did what he wanted to do. And he wanted to do it his way and he wanted to do it the best way. His death was no different from his life – a work of Art. He made ‘Blackstar’ for us, his parting gift. I knew for a year this was the way it would be. I wasn’t, however, prepared for it. He was an extraordinary man, full of love and life. He will always be with us. For now, it is appropriate to cry.”

After Bowie posthumously scored his first US number one album, Visconti took to Facebook to release an additional statement, saying: “I am so proud of my dear friend’s accomplishment. One is just a number, but in this case he made an example of how true artistry and real quality can reach number one in the album charts.”

Visconti then added: “I’m reaching out to the top artists of today. Don’t pander to the the illusion of commercialism — even the biggest hits of today’s sales pale by comparison of the sales of past decades. Do what you fucking want to do, not what you think you have to do.”

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