Forest Park, IL...Jaliyah Windham has been singing with the Soul Children of Chicago since she was 10 years old.
On Saturday, January 19, she and her fellow singers from the group were in Washington D.C. to perform at the Kids’ Inaugural Concert. The event was part of the weekend of festivities surrounding the inauguration of President Obama for his second term in office. It was hosted for the children and family members of military service members by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden.
Jaliyah, 15 and a sophomore at Proviso Math and Science Academy, said that the group has performed at high profile events, including the NATO summit in Chicago for the spouses of NATO leaders in May. That performance led to Mrs. Obama inviting them to perform at the inaugural event.
"I was pretty excited," Jaliyah said of the invitation, which she said she received a week earlier on January 12. "My mom and I said this is a once in a lifetime opportunity."
Jaliyah said that along with the concert, which was performed in memory of the victims of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the group was also to get a tour of the White House. They planned to attend the ceremonial swearing-in before heading home, she said.
Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent of the District 209, said that Jaliyah’s participation is a proud moment for her school and the district.
"We have many talented students in our schools," Dr. Collins-Hart said. "It is always a great thing when one of them gets to showcase their talents at an event such as the inauguration."
Kim Echols, principal at PMSA, said that she was proud to have a student who was able to not only attend the inauguration, but also perform for the First Lady as part of the festivities.
"That is a life-changing event, and I hope it will have a big impact on her future," Mrs. Echols said.
Jaliyah said that she hopes the concert made an impression on Michelle Obama.
"I hope it leads to more doors opening so we can do more with (the Obamas)," Jaliyah said.