And just like the 1939 film, this story is worthy of Hollywood!
You all know Martellies Warren as the beloved long-time educator at and Music Director of The New Century School. Many of you even know of his second career as a member of the three-time Grammy nominated Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy. But did you know that Mr. Warren just sang in person for President Biden and Vice President Harris?
In honor of Black History Month (and what a way to close it out!), Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy were rather suddenly invited to The White House to perform on Monday, February 27th, but they really don’t know fully how or why except that it probably had something to do with their single titled “Call to Action,” a powerful song inspired by the George Floyd tragedy but that exemplifies what Black History Month is all about: righting social injustice and advocating for equity.
Someone in Washington contacted the group’s management, a performance for around 200 to 300 guests was arranged, and the rest, well . . . we’ll let Mr. Warren take it from here!
What had been proposed as a 45-minute set got whittled down to one song, but they said that’s pretty normal and they have to be flexible given that it’s The White House. So, we sang, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” The experience was amazing. Although it was not my first time being at the White House, this was the real deal. I literally stood on the South lawn, and we were escorted around like famous people. Then we were brought into this room, and there they were—President Biden and Vice President Harris! They shook our hands and asked us where we’re from and what we do. Of course, I had to tell them I’m from Montgomery AL, the birthplace of the civil rights movement, and President Biden was like, wow! I also told him that I’m an educator a The New Century School, and he was really intrigued that I teach and have a musical career.
Then, Vice President Harris gave me the warmest hug, and I was able to tell her that before she passed, my mom got to see her become the first African American Vice President and the first woman Vice President. She then wanted me to tell her about my mom, so I shared how she was my cheerleader, and now it’s a little different because I don’t have her here. But Vice President Harris said, “she’s always with you; don’t ever forget.” It was a really heartfelt moment with her. I know my mom would be smiling.
As Mr. Warren recounted this amazing experience to his family, his brother reminded him that as a child, he always claimed that he’d meet the president one day. And here we are. He didn’t just meet the president, though—he conversed with and sang to the president and the vice president!
For the full event, watch this video. Mr. Warren appears at 1:06.