A few nights ago, I had the honor of working the U.S. Dream Academy “Power of a Dream” Gala. The U.S. Dream Academy connects at-risk youth—particularly children who have a parent who is incarcerated—with mentors who help guide their academic careers. The U.S. Dream Academy was founded by noted gospel singer Wintley Phipps the program, which also helps children who are academically behind, operates in 10 cities, including D.C. and Baltimore.
Amongst the nights honoree were: U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina M. Benjamin, Sheila C. Johnson, Robert Townsend and Dr. Delbert W. Baker. All the honorees were extremely gracious and so down to earth. Dr. Benjamin, in her full military dress, mingled with the crowd as did Robert Townsend, who shook the hand of everyone he passed.
Being a music journalist, the highlight of the evening for me was the outstanding music. First, there was a performance of “This Little Light of Mine” by some of the children in the program from across the nation. The a cappella group Committed, who won the show “The Sing Off”, gave great performances of “Sweet Home Alabama”, “September”, and one of my all-time favorite songs “Let’s Stay Together”. One of the final performances of the night came as a duet between Wintley Phipps and the illustrious Patti LaBelle.
Patti spoke about her recent performance for Oprah and how Oprah had been such a blessing for so many people and she wanted to pass it along by sharing the evening with the U.S. Dream Academy. Her classic version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” had everyone jumping for joy. Having had just celebrated her 67th birthday(and looking fabulous!) Committed sang a beautiful happy birthday to her. I was supposed to be working the event, so I only got a few minutes to actually tape her performance, but I how you enjoyed the little portion I was able to capture. Enjoy!
For more information about U.S. Dream Academy please visit www.usdreamacademy.org