Washington benefit aids Ford's theater

— Celebrities and artists from the country music and Latino community entertained President Bush and the first lady Sunday evening at the annual presidential gala benefit for Ford's Theatre.

Grammy Award winning country artist LeAnn Rimes, standup comedian George Lopez and the Texas group Lonestar were among those who performed for an audience of senators and corporate leaders in the historic theater.

Standing on stage with the Naval Academy Glee Club, Bush praised the theater for having a "place in the history of our country and also a special place in the life of this city."

Bush also paid tribute to the late Frankie Hewitt for making Ford's Theatre "more than a museum and a reminder of a sad day in our nation's history." Hewitt, 71, died of cancer last Friday the day after Bush awarded her the National Humanities Medal.

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AP Photo

President Bush and first lady Laura Bush take their seats at the start of an entertainment gala at the historic Ford's Theatre in Washington. Seated next to the president is Michael Eisner, chairman and CEO of the Walt Disney Co.

Other performers included Grammy winner Alison Krauss & Union Station and 6-year old singer Jamia Simone Nash.

Nash, who sang a rendition of Alicia Keys' song "Fallin"' charmed the president. Winking at her when he took to the stage, Bush called Nash the "definition of the future."

The performance will be aired later on ABC television.

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