Pianist to the Presidents: PSU alum to perform at President Carter’s anniversary party

Jordan Meier
President Carter and David Osborne

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Renowned pianist and Pittsburg State alum David Osborne will be “tickling the ivories” this weekend at a very special event—Former President Jimmy Carter’s wedding anniversary party.  

Though a native to the four-state area, Osborne has spent much of his career in Las Vegas performing at iconic places around the city including Caesar’s Palace and the Bellagio Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip, all the while also making a name for himself as the “Pianist to the Presidents.”   

Though he has performed for every president since the ‘80s, Carter was the first to be entranced by Osborne’s talent. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal Osborne and Carter met at a book signing in Orlando, Florida, in the late ‘80s. Osborne gave the former president “a vinyl album he’d just recorded. The ex-president loved the music, and a friendship was formed.”  

Since meeting Carter, Osborne has gone on to play for Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Donald Trump; and by his count has performed at the White House for 67 formal events. Osborne even organized a 75th birthday tribute in 1999 for President Carter.  

This weekend Osborne will once again take the stage to honor the former president, but this time at Carter’s former high school in Georgia in honor of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter’s 75th wedding anniversary.  

“I’m playing for an hour and a half in the high school auditorium,” Osborne told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “Of all the people he could have asked, he called me and I’m just humbled by it.” 

For the performance, Osborne told the Review-Journal he “anticipates performing such Carter favorites as John Lennon’s “Imagine” and Ray Charles’ “Georgia On My Mind.” A John Denver medley and select Broadway tunes should be on the set list, along with some slices of Americana.”  

“They love patriotic songs,” Osborne said. “I’m sure we will have a medley of those, too.” 

According to the Review-Journal, over 500 people have been invited to Plains High School — including President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden and former first couples Bill and Hillary Clinton, George W. Bush and Laura Bush, and Barack Obama and Michelle Obama — to celebrate the occasion.  

“This is a huge honor,” Osborne said.  “I was just floored when he invited me to do this.” 

According to a blog post from PSU in 2015, Osborne earned a master’s degree in music from PSU in 1983. Previously, he had earned a bachelor’s degree from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa and began his graduate studies at Indiana University-Bloomington.  

Osborne said he returned to PSU from Indiana to complete his master’s degree when his mother, Nina Osborne, was diagnosed with cancer. Because he had taken classes at PSU when he was still in high school, Osborne knew the campus well and had close ties to faculty who had already begun to shape his career. 

“The teachers were really great,” Osborne said. “They let me reach the level I wanted to.”