Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith was one of the celebrities there to help out at the first ever White House talent show on Tuesday (May 21st) afternoon. The event was organized to raise awareness for Turnaround Arts, a program put in place to increase performance and achievement at some of the lowest-ranked schools in the U.S. through arts education.
Students from eight schools around the country participated in the talent show, and received encouraging words from the Obamas.
“The arts are central to who we are as a people and they are central to the success of our kids,” President Obama said. “This is not an afterthought. This is not something you do because it’s nice to do. It is necessary for these young people to succeed that we promote the arts. I hope that events like this help send a message to school districts and parents and governors and leaders all across this country to support the arts. It’s a priority.”
“I didn’t give a s*** about science, math or English when I was in school and music was the only reason I wanted to go,” Smith told Rolling Stone. “It got me interested in other subjects and I would’ve never graduated without it. If kids can connect with some sort of art in some way, it will enrich their lives in ways they probably can’t fully comprehend at the time.”
Smith and musician/former New York Yankee Bernie Williams attended Savoy Elementary School in Washington, D.C. earlier this week to teach a class on music. “These are schools where the kids look down at their feet and have no hope and don’t feel like they mean anything,” said Smith. “They have no self-worth. They need something. This is not a photo-op and just throwing some money. You really roll your sleeves up and immerse yourself in the school.”