Wed Sep 6th 2006 at 11:47 pm ET
By Brooks Boliek
WASHINGTON (Hollywood Reporter) – The music industry scored some brownie points with rising star, U.S. Sen. Barack Obama, when it handed him its ultimate award on Wednesday, a Grammy that he won earlier this year for best spoken word album.
The Illinois Democrat, honored for his 2005 recording of “Dreams From My Father,” wasn’t able to attend the awards ceremony in Los Angeles last February as his day job got in the way, so the National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences came to him.
The presentation was made as part of the academy’s annual Grammys on the Hill Day, when the group brings in diverse members of the music-making community in an attempt to impress upon lawmakers the importance of the industry in American life.
The star of Wednesday’s effort was Grammy-winning “American Idol” champion Kelly Clarkson. She and her band transformed a venerable hall into a recording studio as they debuted a new song, “Believe.”
As these types of demonstrations go, it appeared to be a hit. Clarkson is a definite draw among youngish congressional aides, and on one of the two takes recorded, eight lawmakers helped the rhythm section by clapping along.
According to the House Historian’s Office, it marks the first time the Cannon House Office Building Caucus Room has been used to record a song, though other recordings probably have been made there. The room — where then-Congressman Richard Nixon made his first national splash in 1948 by grilling alleged Soviet spy Alger Hiss — is often used for various functions and fetes, including the recent one marking Tony Bennett’s 80th birthday.