In a private visit to the United States of America to mark 2016 Black History Month, H.E. Mrs. Toyin Saraki, Wife of the Nigeria 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 24th of February at the kind invitation of President Barack Obama and his wife, First Lady Michelle Obama.
A longstanding supporter of the creative arts and music in Nigeria and globally, H.E. Mrs. Toyin Saraki joined President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, 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, H.E. Mrs. Toyin Saraki underscored the important contribution of music to culture and development. Recognised alongside Pepsi, American Airlines, the Kovlar Foundation and other eminent philanthropic personalities as a key supporter of creative arts at the Tribute Performance, Mrs. Saraki, attired in her signature African print gown with traditional head-tie, accompanied by her son Oluwaseni, expressed appreciation to United States of America First Couple for the warm and welcoming reception and stated, “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.”
U.S. “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, the Reverend Al Sharpton; legal luminaries Sam Seymour and his wife, Karen Patton Seymour; and Directors of the Smithsonian Museum and Ray Charles Foundation, Kirk Johnson and Valerie Ervin respectively.
Despite hosting over a dozen “In Performance” events at the White House over the last seven years, President Obama has 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 equally participated in Black History Month in the state of South Carolina, where she was honoured by the South Carolina State House of Representatives in a House Resolution, for her humanitarian effort for reproductive health and girl’s education on February 25, 2009.