Dr. Walt Whitman & Soul Children Visit White House
Congratulations to Dr. Walt Whitman and The Soul Children of Chicago, who were recently invited back to the White House.
“Go where you are celebrated and not tolerated” is Whitman’s mantra and obviously, the Grammy award-winning youth choir is a favorite in the nation’s capital. Last week, the Stellar Award winner was the only youth group asked to participate in the symposium from August 4-6.
Although the Soul Children have performed five times at our nation’s capital, twice has been during the Obama Administration.
“We performed at the 2012 Presidential Inauguration, NATO Summit in Chicago,” shared Whitman. Last week, first lady Michelle Obama summoned the choir to perform at a very exclusive luncheon at the Hall of the Nations at the Kennedy Center for the first ladies of 47 nations from the continent of Africa.
“The honor of being presented by our nation to the nations as ambassadors and diplomats representing Chicago and the United States, is the highest honor that we have achieved in our 33-year history of our organization,” said Whitman.
Whitman shared how he hopes this handpicked choir will continue to inspire and reach the nations through song.
JET: How was it going back to the White House?
Walt Whitman: The first lady shared with us that when they were making choices—there were no other options. It was the Soul Children, which was the ultimate honor. They flew us up there, put us in housing. We didn’t have to raise money. They took care of us every step of the way. We opened up with a tribute to Nelson Mandela—and we did a new song entitled “Awake” and dedicated it to all the first ladies and their spouses. Then we did a Soul Children version of Pharrell’s “Happy.” The first lady was singing and dancing with the Soul Children and the video went viral.
JET: Your music ministry has really grown internationally.
WW: The Soul Children has inspired this movement in other countries. People don’t realize that there are Soul Children in Indonesia, Switzerland, Japan, Ecuador and Germany. These are actual countries that have birthed choirs out of the ministry. There is a brand new Soul Children festival in Stockholm—Stockholm has a gospel festival. The Soul Children from Norway will merge with the choir in Stockholm in August. Also, there is a German group coming in April that is part of the Soul Children.
JET: Tell us more about Soul Stories.
WW: There was a young man—Eugene Bush, who helped us create Soul Stories. Which are actually Soul Children’s stories about how these kids have actually gone through struggles, anger and sexual issues and we are not dealing with the answers. We see how pastors are committing suicides because they are not dealing with their own issues. The Soul Stories show how you can shift the environment and not be alone. If pastors do it, you can imagine what kids are going through. It’s something about that family environment that allows them to talk about it among their peers. That support system is very important. We are trying to shop it as a television pilot.
JET: How can someone become a Soul Child?
WW: At this point we are looking for soloist only—undiscovered talent. Now, you can actually send a video. We are on social media. Send us a 60 second video on your phone and give us your best shot. Send it to Soulchildrenalumn@yahoo.com If you got what we are looking for—we will call you. If not, just wait…
Some of the alumni that have come through the choir are David Hollister, Kim McFarland, Jamie Simond, LeCresia Campbell and Jonathan Wright, the professional hairstylist for First Lady Michelle Obama.
In Other Giving You the Gospel News:
Condolences to the family and friends of Al “The Bishop” Hobbs of the Gospel Music Workshop of America. The Vice Chairman of the GMWA, former radio personality and recording artist passed on July 31. The services will begin on August 15th the viewing is from 3pm–6pm; Prelude 6pm–7pm and the musical 7pm–11pm. On Saturday, August 16th the viewing is 8am–10am and the celebration of life services are10a.m. All services will be held at Christ Church Apostolic, Inc., 6601 Grandview Dr., Indianapolis, IN.
About Effie Rolfe
Effie Rolfe is a media consultant, personality and speaker. For years, she was the “voice of inspiration” each Sunday morning and middays on Chicago radio. She also speaks at schools, churches and workshops. Effie writes for several publications and is the author of The K(N)ots Prayer. Visit her Website effierolfe.com; like her on mseffierolfe.com and follow her via @effiedrolfe.