Exclusive: Inside Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama's private dinner in D.C.

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Left to right: Band members Oscar Stagnaro, Alex Brown, Oprah Winfrey, Diego Urcola, Mark Walker.

Left to Right: Band members Oscar Stagnaro, Alex Brown, Mark Walker, Barack Obama, Diego Urcola, Paul Malesi, Charlie Fishman

Band member Charlie Fishman and Oprah Winfrey.

He was hours away from becoming president. She's one of the most influential people in America.

So you can imagine the look on musician and Chicago native Mark Walker's face when he found out he'd be playing an intimate -- and top secret -- dinner Sunday hosted by Barack Obama and attended by Oprah Winfrey at the Blair House .

Walker's band -- The Band of Paquito D'Rivera -- was in town to play a gig at the Kennedy Center when he found out they'd also be playing the party attended by Obama and some of his closest friends.

"[Obama projected] a really, strong, positive vibe and was really relaxed at the same time," Walker said. "We've seen his face everywhere, and we're there hanging with him."

Walker said the 50 or so guests who attended the three-hour party with Obama and Winfrey were screened by Secret Service before they entered the building, but were able to roam without restriction once inside.

"I went to hang up my coat and I see these two little girls come in, smiling and saying, 'hi,' and I realized they were the first daughters. It was kind of surreal. [Obama] seemed very down to earth and friendly," Walker said. "He had that million-dollar smile."

Walker, who currently lives in Boston, grew up in Chicago's Old Town neighborhood before moving in 1995. While in Chicago, he was a full-time musician and began playing the drums for his band in 1989.

Walker said Michelle Obama was already at the party when the band arrived. Winfrey walked in solo, and Barack Obama followed shortly after as the band was playing Miles Davis -- an Obama favorite.

"You know, I'm a big Miles Davis fan," the drummer said Obama told him. "You did your homework."

"[Winfrey] came in, noticed we were playing and gave us a thumbs up," Walker said. Later, the Chicago talk show host posed for a picture with the band.

Walker said guests sat at five round tables and feasted on ribs, sweet potatoes, fried chicken, salmon, macaroni and cheese, pie, ice cream and brownies. They also drank Pinot Nior from California, he said.

Winfrey -- who sat two seats away from Obama and across from his wife, Michelle-- looked great, Walker said.

"They were talking the whole time, having a good time," Walker said. "I had read somewhere that [Winfrey] was down on herself, but I thought she looked great."

The band didn't get paid to play at the dinner, but did it for the experience.

"We did it to meet the new president, and we did. So mission accomplished," Walker said, who ironically voted for Republican John McCain in the general election.

Walker didn't recognize anyone else at the party, other than Obama's chief of staff -- Rahm Emanuel.

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"O" & "O"

A billionaire and a President. Who's working for who????

One can only wonder, what's the connection???

I like Obama becuase iam also one the poorest person , no body looked at me in cheers just every body looked at me i thought iam a very poor becuase my father had not a good job and that is why i like Obama he is also some time ago people ofended back people the same the did rto me know the elected a black a presedent , i pray to my Allah once i will be out of Afghanistan may be in America or one of the advacned counrtries , that time i will recocnize that iam living and i will enjoy the good thing about live and i can bring my children n good schools and i will have some time to rest not all the time thinking and just thinking about my live......
if any body wnats to help me and take me out of Afghanistan my mobile number is 0093799683464
love you all

I am amazed at how many people still let Oprah decide how they're going to feel at any given moment. She is so easy to ignore, I can't figure out why people waste their time being angry at Oprah or angry at a newspaper who prints stuff about Oprah. There are how many other articles in this paper that aren't about Oprah???? Oh, only 1. No wonder people feel that way... We have no choice. We're owned by Oprah. No, we're owned by the SunTimes. No, we're owned by Oprah. No, we gave our minds to the SunTimes. Gee, I don't know who owns my mind. I guess I might as well go on and do what I want with my mind since it's that hard to figure out who's it is. Those who are sick of Oprah, please remember this one thing: it's not Oprah you are sick of because if you really were, you'd just ignore her. There's nothing you can do about seeing Oprah in print, so change you and your heart. Try ignoring her whenever you see something about her. No one is forcing you to read this article. Ignoring her is really easy. Direct your hate towards no one; just figure out why you are hating anyone, forgive them, and you'll be free. You are drinking the poison, but expecting Oprah to die! It won't happen. Don't sweat the small stuff; it's all small stuff!!! It really is.

Congratulations President Obama. I will never be able to describe the feeling I had on Jan 20, 2009 as I watched you take the oath of office to become the 44th president of the United States of America. For the first time in my life of 51 years I feel like my contributions to this country made a difference.

Oprah, You have been a role model for young black girls in this country for a long time. You keep doing what you are doing because it is so badly needed.

Now Sue (Jam 21 comment) let me help you get over your stress. There is this wonderful invention on most TV's and radio's called the on/off button. As well as knob that will help you move to another channel if what you are watching or listening to is not working out for you. I hope this helps..

Ah! 'The World According to Oprah!' It is amazing how this New Ager has managed to control so many with her doctrine of the world according to her. Let's hope President Obama distances himself and remembers that the people and not Oprah elected him.

To sue if you sick of oprah stop watching.


While I am pleased that Obama won the election given the alternative, I am SO sick of Oprah and I will never understand why anyone cares what she thinks about politics. Those who support a candidate just because she does need to think for themselves. I acknowledge that she tries to do good, but I hate celebrity political endorsements. I'd love to ask her what was so terrible about John Kerry that the U.S. had to endure another four years under Bush. Why didn't she step forward and mobilize her mindless drones then? It wasn't as if the Bush administration's incompetence was unknown at that point. She did what she did because of race. One would think that she would be beyond that given the many white fans she has.


Oprah is not on any high horse. She is a very compassionate and idealistic person. She could retire and spend the rest of her days lounging around with other wealthy people. But she puts herself out there every day trying to improve people's lives. Agree or disagree with Oprah, she does a lot of good things.

Miss Sue "high horse", what have you done with your life?

OMG! I Love Barack Obama SSSSSSSSSSoooooooooooooooo much hes my insperation!

ILY Barack

Good to see the hometown old gang having fun and keeping it real. Kinda reminds me of the the old Garrison Lounge crowd when Oprah was at WJZ TV in Baltimore.

Does Oprah own the suntimes? Why is every day of her life a worthy news event? I'm done with your paper.

More great content from THE best source of all things Oprah.

Awesome job, again, Mark!

How cool that would have been. To set down to dinner or be a musician at a private party. You gotta just love this President and his renewal of America's dream and our responsibilities.

I am living in Canada, Montreal, Quebec.
I have to say the whole inaugral process was overwhelming.
I watched the events unfold from 6 am until the wee hours of the night.

As Americans one has to be very proud!

On the day of, I so wanted to share your dreams as Americans.

It was a long time coming.

I thank you for electing a wonderful man and hopefully for it the world will be a better place..

Thank You,


Yesterday was a wonderful day. There was so much good. So many things to be positive about. Few are mentioning a concern I have. I can't understand why Bush was booed. Of course we were disappointed with much of what happened, concerned about faulty decisions, etc. during his administration. But after all, he was still our president, and I'm sure Obama would discourage such disrepsect. That was not in the spirit of what the new president stood for and a disservice to him.

did you invite Cherise Capchinco a 15 year old filipina singer on your party?

so sick of Oprah.......she should get off her high horse

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Mark Bieganski published on January 21, 2009 1:16 PM.

Oprah Winfrey at Barack Obama's inauguration was the previous entry in this blog.

Oprah Winfrey, other Chicagoans attend late night party at White House with Obamas is the next entry in this blog.

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