In a private visit to the United States of America to mark the 2016 Black History Month, Toyin Saraki, wife of the Senate President and Founder of the leading maternal and child health NGO – the Wellbeing Foundation Africa, attended the final music concert of the Obama administration, “Smithsonian Salutes Ray Charles: In Performance at the White House,” on the February 24, at the invitation of President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle.
A longstanding supporter of the creative arts and music in Nigeria and globally, Mrs. Saraki joined the Obamas, performing artists Usher, Demi Lovato and Grammy Award Winner Brittany Howard, to pay tribute to the enduring legacy of Ray Charles.
During the White House tribute to international music legend, Ray Charles, Mrs Saraki underscored the important contribution of music to culture and development. Attired in her signature African print gown with traditional head-tie, accompanied by her son, Mohammed-Kabir, the Senate President’s wifeexpressed appreciation to the American First Couple for the warm and welcoming reception.
“I am delighted, that during Black History Month, the superlatively inspirational musical tradition of late Ray Charles Robinson, is being honoured so singularly, by current musical greats”, she said.
US “RnB” singer, Usher and gospel recording artist, Yolanda Adams were notably among a number of contemporary artists that performed the late Ray Charles’ music to an audience that included eminent guests such as renown civil rights crusader, Reverend Al Sharpton;legal luminary, Sam Seymour and his wife, Karen Patton Seymour;and Directors of the Smithsonian Museum and the Ray Charles Foundation, Kirk Johnson andValerie Ervin respectively.
Despite hosting over a dozen “In Performance” events at the White House over the last seven years, at this final and penultimate musical concert, Obama described Ray Charles as one of his musical favourites who continues to influence generations of musicians.
In 2009, the Founder-President of the Wellbeing Foundation Africa had equally participated in Black History Month in the state of South Carolina, in a visit to the historic Benedict College, where she was honoured by the South Carolina State House of Representatives in a House Resolution, for her WellBeing Foundation Africa’s humanitarian effort for reproductive health and girl’s education, on February 25, 2009.