WASHINGTON – First lady Michelle Obama welcomed more than 130 students from 10 schools and communities to the White House Wednesday for an interactive workshop with top music artists.
The workshop, the 11th in a series since the Obamas’ have been in the White House, honored Ray Charles, a blind American singer, musician and songwriter who died in 2004.
Charles had the nickname “The Genius” and won 17 Grammy awards.
“For over half a century, countless people have been grooving to Ray Charles’s signature sound,” Obama said. “That incredible blend of soul and gospel, and everything in between.”
The first lady mentioned the obstacles the workshops’ guest artists hurdled over in their lives – similar to Ray Charles. Demi Lovato overcame addiction and mental health issues. Yolanda Adams’ father passed away when she was young, and she had to raise her five brothers and sisters.
“No matter what, these folks kept on going,” Obama said. “They kept on practicing, and studying and believing in themselves.”
If there’s something you want to do in the world, you can’t be satisfied until you do it, Obama said, referencing Charles.
Robert Santelli, executive director of the GRAMMY Museum, said that Charles has served as an inspiration for many American singers with the music he gave people over the span of his career
“He lived the American Dream,” Santelli said. “He created for himself the American Dream.”
Adams and Lovato along with Leon Bridges, Andra Day, and Jussie Smollett met with the students in smaller groups to discuss overcoming obstacles.
Reach Erick Payne at email@example.com or 202-408-1489. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire on Facebook and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.
Download photos: RayCharles.zip