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Former foster youth sing with Patti LaBelle at White House ‘Women of Soul’ workshop

March 7, 2014
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(Starting second from left) Youth Villages transitional living program participants Bianca Christian, Mariah Hunt and Fred Burns look on during the March 7 workshop with First Lady Michelle Obama and entertainers Patti LaBelle, Melissa Etheridge and Janelle Monáe at the White House.

Twenty participants in the Youth Villages transitional living program for former foster children joined more than 120 middle school, high school and college-level students from across the country for a “History of Women in Soul Music” educational program and concert at the White House March 7.

First Lady Michelle Obama hosted “I’m Every Woman: The History of Women in Soul,” a student workshop in the State Dining Room. The educational event was in conjunction with the PBS music special “Women of Soul: In Performance in the White House,” produced by The GRAMMY Museum. It included a history of the origins of soul music by Grammy Museum Executive Director Robert Santelli. He was joined by special music guests Patti LaBelle, Melissa Etheridge and Janelle Monáe, who also appeared in the concert later that evening. During the workshop, these artists shared their experiences and answered students’ questions.

At the end of a question-and-answer session with the performers, the students shared their own musical talents with an impromptu sing-a-long of Arthur Conley’s classic hit, “Do You Like Good Music?” The singers included Youth Villages’ transitional living participants Melissa Howard, Darrah Hall and Sherika Wilkes. Watch the entire program below (to see the sing-a-long, skip ahead to the 58:24 mark of the video).

Learn more about the transitional living program and the challenges young adults face after aging out of foster care at

“Women of Soul: In Performance at the White House” will be broadcast Monday, April 7 at 9 p.m. (EDT) on PBS stations nationwide (check local listings).

The Commercial Appeal: Memphis students sing at White House (subscribers only).

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