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Vegas musician played Rosalynn Carter’s last birthday party

Updated November 19, 2023 - 4:52 pm

The man known as the “Pianist to the Presidents” performed in August at the official birthday party for Rosalynn Carter, who died Sunday at age 96. Piano great David Osborne featured at the second Butterfly Daze in Plains on Aug. 19. Hundreds of monarch butterflies were released to honor Carter and her “gentle spirit.”

“I never felt deserving of this honor. God just put it together for me, and I’m overwhelmed with the beautiful things that have happened to me over my life as a result of my close friendship with Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter. It’s just indescribable what they have done for me,” Osborne said.

The piano master will play at Carter’s memorial.

“I’ve never known anyone like Rosalynn. She was the classiest, sweetest, kindest lady to me as well as my family and friends,” Osborne said. “She always held my hand when we talked. She loved ‘Morning Has Broken’ and ‘Jesus is The Sweetest Name I Know!’ I will play these and more at her services.”

In all, Osborne counts 67 formal events at the White House and also such celebratory performances as the Carters’ dual birthday party in August 2019 at First Baptist Church in Americus, Georgia. He’s played 25 presidential Christmas parties.

His long releationship with presidential functions began with Jimmy Carter. Starting with the 39th president, Osborne has performed for every president since Carter’s administration, including Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Obama and (in December 2019) Donald Trump.

Osborne has performed on the Strip since 1994, first as featured pianist at Palace Court at Caesars Palace. He’s been at the Bellagio since 2007. He is in the rotation of pianists at the Petrossian Bar, just off the resort’s main entrance next to the Dale Chihuly glass sculpture display, from 8 p.m. to 12:45 a.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and 10 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. Sundays and Mondays

Osborne met Jimmy Carter at a book-signing in Orlando, Florida, in 1988. The pianist gave Carter a vinyl album he’d just recorded. The ex-president loved the music and a friendship was formed.

The virtuoso has performed for every president dating to Carter, invited by Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Obama and (in December 2019) Donald Trump.

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on X, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.