Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for The Recording Academy
GRAMMY In The Schools Live 2020: Bebe Rexha Performs & Mickey Smith Jr. Named Music Educator Of The Year
There was no lack of energy at the 2020 GRAMMY In The Schools Live event held at the Ebell Theater in Los Angeles on Jan 23.
Hosted by the GRAMMY Museum, GITSL brought students and educators together to celebrate music education during GRAMMY Week. Attended by a crowd of Los Angeles students from all over the county, the event featured both a speech by this year's Music Educator Award recipient, Mickey Smith Jr., covers of today's biggest pop songs by Recording Academy and GRAMMY Museum program alumni and a special performance by performer Bebe Rexha.
Speaking exclusively to the Recording Academy, Smith Jr., a middle school band director at Maplewood Middle School in Sulphur, Louisiana, noted that teachers are "the backbone of society." He and nine finalists of the educator award will receive cash honorariums thanks to the GRAMMY Museum and Ford Motor Company Fund.
Smith Jr. also said that educating "is the noblest of professions because it's so giving. These are folks who are not in it for the money, they are not in it for the fame. They are in it to see that the next generation becomes the best generation."
He added that working with students helps him remember what matters. "When I'm around these kids I'm reminded that we all have a gift, we all have a talent, we all have a sound, It's our job to keep on going, discover that sound and share it with others."
Coming to Los Angeles for the first time to receive his award is "beyond anything I could have imagined for myself," he said. "But it feels absolutely amazing and it's amazing because people poured into me when I was a kid." His grandmother bought him his first instrument even though she didn't have a lot to spare. His parents, as well as his community, were also very supportive of him. "So when I stand here today I feel the weight of all those individuals who saw a little something in me."
Bebe Rexha also knows exactly what can happen when someone believes in a young person. Rexha was a part of a program when she was in high school called GRAMMY Career Day at Pace University and ended up meeting Chris Brown and other music executives after winning a songwriting contest. "It really gave me the confidence to do what I'm doing now," she told the Recording Academy.
That night she performed a touching rendition of "Meant To Be" with a band made up of GRAMMY program alumni. "They're so talented and amazing," the singer/songwriter said about the band. Rexha also said that music has really helped her in life and feels like it's important to keep music in schools. "The kids are the future and I think it's really important to get to them so they can hopefully be a better future."