"We had two shows that night," says Bobby Womack, recounting a recent concert in Houston. "It was a small theater, about 5- or 6,000 people. The second show, I was just out of it; they had to take me to the hospital."
It was a serious scare for the 68-year-old singer-songwriter — who has also lived through drug addiction and the deaths of two sons — and it didn't end that night.
Fraser and Marian Shields Robinson raised their children, Craig and Michelle, in Chicago, but their family's ancestry can be traced back to pre-abolition Georgia.
Credit Barack Obama Campaign
The Shield and Robinson lines met in 1959 in Chicago, where Fraser and Marian Shields Robinson married and raised their children, Craig and Michelle.
Credit Courtesy of Jewell Barclay
The first lady's maternal great-great-grandfather Dolphus Shields (seated) was born to Melvinia Shields. After emancipation, he settled his family in Birmingham, Ala., where he stayed until his death in 1950.
Credit Courtesy of Francesca Gray
Obama's paternal grandfather, Fraser Robinson Jr., fought in World War II and spoke Gullah, a language that emerged on the South Carolina coast during slavery.
Credit Damon Wood
DNA tests have shown that Joan Tribble, the great-great-granddaughter of Melvinia Shields' owner, and the first lady are distantly related.
Credit The White House / Getty Images
Michelle Obama's family was part of American history long before she, Malia, Sasha and Barack Obama moved into the White House.
Credit Courtesy of HarperCollins
Rachel Swarns reconstructs Michelle Obama's family tree in her book American Tapestry. (Click here for a closer look.)
Credit Scott Robinson /
Author Rachel Swarns has been a reporter for The New York Times since 1995. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband and their two children.
When Michelle Obama's great-great-great grandmother was 8 years old, her life underwent a dramatic change.
Melvinia Shields was a slave who grew up at a South Carolina estate with a relatively large community of slaves she knew well. But then she was moved to a small farm in northern Georgia where she was one of only three slaves; most white people in the area didn't own any.
On a week monopolized by important political news, many of you still took time out to comment on our National Geographic inspired poll, which asked "Which president, would-be president or movie president would do the best job if extraterrestrials come to visit?"
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm David Greene. The United States reached an agreement with Russia and other world powers yesterday to try to create a transitional government in Syria after months of bloodshed. But Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, opposed U.S. insistence that the Syrian leader should go. The deal was quickly dismissed by the Syrian rebels. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton came back from Geneva last night but before she got on her plane, she sat down with NPR's Michele Kelemen.
So much of the news out of Europe these days is about debt and countries struggling to pay their bills. Well, there is a bit of calm in that storm, and, of course, it's in Paris. There's no Greek-style austerity in France. And as Eleanor Beardsley tells us, in the City of Light, people are still enjoying the good life.