Congressmen, senators and celebrities put politics aside Wednesday night at the Liaison Capitol Hill Hotel for "Grammys on the Hill," an annual event to celebrate the legislators and artists who promote music in schools, protect intellectual property rights, and above all, appreciate a good jam
"It's a great night where you can have a bipartisan group of people come together, NBC Correspondent Luke Russert, the night's emcee, told Whispers. "Where else can you see Orrin Hatch and Howard Berman agreeing on something?"
Wednesday's event included seven-time Grammy winner John Mayer and California Rep. Howard Berman, who was honored for his work on protecting artists' rights. [See what rapper Obama and Cantor are listening to.]
"As a representative from L.A., I understand the value of our nation's greatest export, intellectual property," he said. "We can't afford to give away our innovation for free."
The Democratic congressman wasn't all business though. He started off his speech with a dig at President Obama.
"No Teleprompter for me. Tell the president that," he said taking the stage.
Berman didn't stop there. The congressman made fun of himself and his colleagues, comparing Congress to the titles of many John Mayer songs. [See Obama Slow Jam with Jimmy Fallon.]
"Now I have to admit I don't know all of the words to John's songs, but it does seem appropriate that he is being recognized on Capitol Hill since many of his song titles seem to capture the way things feel in Congress these days," Berman said. "Songs like 'Waiting on the World to Change,' 'Every Day I Have the Blues,' 'Heartbreak Warfare,' and with apologies to Sen. Hatch, there's one that describes the way the House feels about the Senate — 'Your Body is a Wonderland.'"
Berman wasn't the only Congressman in the room with an appreciation for music.
Utah Senator Orrin Hatch might be busy gearing up for a tough primary fight, but he is keeping up with his musical talents. Hatch, a prolific songwriter as well as a pianist and violinist, co-wrote the event's headlining song, "High Country," with songwriter and performer Monty Powell. Hatch is no rookie to writing songs for big events. Hatch's "Heal our Land," was performed at George W. Bush's 2004 inauguration.
Hatch agreed with Berman that the most pressing issue facing the music industry today is protecting artists' intellectual property.
"The greatest problem is to make sure struggling musicians get paid for their work," he says. "A lot of young people feel everything on the Internet should be free."