by Melody Young
On February 24, two Granada Hills Charter High School (GHCHS) students represented the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Cadet Leadership Program in a series hosted by the White House titled “In Performance at the White House.”
The concert series focuses on music that inspired historical movements and showcases the different kinds of music that make the American musical culture rich. Previous events have commemorated musicians such as Stevie Wonder and have featured cultural music during heritage months, like Hispanic Heritage Month and Black History Month.
Seniors Simaranjeet Rai and Seyeong Min, along with seven other cadets from other schools, attended the educational program commemorating musician Ray Charles.
“The session was rather short but incredible. We were able to witness the background of several fantastic artists through the unique perspective of Ray Charles’s persona. As a LAPD Cadet Commander, it was awesome to experience a world inside the White House while also interviewing exceptionally talented artists,” Min said.
After First Lady Michelle Obama gave her opening remarks, Grammy Museum Executive Director Robert Santelli began the workshop, sponsored by the Grammy Museum education’s department. The students were introduced to Ray Charles, from his humble beginnings to his influential music career.
Artists Yolanda Adams, Leon Bridges, Andra Day, Demi Lovato, and Jussie Smollett also performed and spoke at the event. The five singers shared how Charles’ music impacted them and interacted with students in a small group for a question and answer session.
The LAPD Cadets were among ten organizations and schools from across the country invited to participate in the workshop. The LAPD Cadet Leadership Program’s main sponsor is the Ray Charles Foundation, which funds organizations involved in curing hearing disabilities and assists organizations that provide educational resources for youth. Charles was blind since the age of seven, but he always felt that the inability to hear music, not the inability to see, was a handicap.
“The program’s three main principles emphasize community service, leadership, and academic excellence. But most importantly, the program instills values such as discipline and pride, it fosters growth, and offers individuals the chance to better themselves and apply themselves to the community in order to truly make a difference,” Rai said.