Celebrities at White House Honor Musical Legend Ray Charles

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By Tatyana Hopkins

Ray Charles
Ray Charles

 

Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the Howard University News Service

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Gospel star and radio host Yolanda Adams, soul/R&B singers Leon Bridges and Andra Day, singer, model and Disney Channel actress Demi Lovato, actor and singer Jussie Smollett from the popular television series “Empire” recently came together for the final in a series of musical performances hosted by the White House.

The performances, which also included Usher and Band Perry, honored recording artist Ray Charles for his 50-year musical legacy, which included pop, country, jazz, blues and R&B. The program was held before a special PBS broadcast, “Smithsonian Salutes Ray Charles: In Performance at the White House.”

Jussie Smollett laughs after First Lady Michelle Obama called him "cute" during her introduction prior to the student workshop at White House. Smollett and other musical stars performed tribute to musical legend Ray Charles.  PHOTO: Cheriss May/Howard University News Service 
Jussie Smollett laughs after First Lady Michelle Obama called him “cute” during her introduction prior to the student workshop at White House. Smollett and other musical stars performed tribute to musical legend Ray Charles.  PHOTO: Cheriss May/Howard University News Service

The first lady, who quipped about how “cute” Smollett, told 100 students invited to the White House to interact with the artists during workshops, that like Charles, they could overcome whatever obstacles they faced to achieve their goals.

She told them how Charles was blind by age 7 and orphaned by 15, yet still went on to perform for seven presidents and win 17 Grammy awards.

Leon Bridges performs tribute to Ray Charles.at White House. PHOTO: Cheriss May/Howard University News Service
Leon Bridges performs tribute to Ray Charles.at White House. PHOTO: Cheriss May/Howard University News Service

“No matter who you are or what challenges you face, you all have the power to get from those seats down there to these seats up here or anywhere else you want to go,” Obama said, as she shared some obstacles each of the panelists had overcome, including Bridges’ fear of crowds and Lovato’s struggle with mental health.

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