For over a decade, singer and musician Philip Bailey has used his position as lead vocalist of the legendary musical group Earth, Wind & Fire to empower foster youth through his Music Is Unity Foundation.
Founded in 2007 with his daughter, Trinity, the nonprofit gives back to the community by investing in agencies that support foster youth in transitioning successfully to adulthood.
Each year, 25,000 young adults age 18 or older make the transition out of foster care, resulting in the loss of access to most foster care services and support.
According to Bailey, these vulnerable youth often need urgent help to find housing, jobs and health care as well as essential social services.
“For fostered youth, most children don’t have the same opportunities and system to help them advocate through the terrains of life. Foster youth was one of the issues that I thought people were not that aware of. It’s our responsibility [to help] because they have no one else,” the 67-year-old singer said.
According to MIU, there are 423,000 foster youth in the United States.
“There are hundreds of thousands of people who fall victim – by no fault of their own,” Bailey said. “It might be because their parents have died, on drugs, in jail or various other reasons but they didn’t ask to come here.
“So, they find themselves in situations, many times, with really no hope besides the systems. And the system, many times, doesn’t have compassion. A portion of Earth Wind & Fire’s ticket sales goes to Music is Unity, and we have partnered with Foster Youth in Action,” he said.
“We are really excited about it,” Bailey added.
At various Earth, Wind & Fire concert cities, Bailey invites a dozen or so foster youth to participate in the Backstage Soundcheck, designed to develop interest in music industry careers. Prior to the show, Bailey, along with backstage and production personnel such as road crew, technicians and engineers will conduct a behind-the-scenes tour that will include an exclusive sound check experience and a question-and-answer session with Bailey.
“With their interest being in the music and entertainment industry, they are going to get a chance to see and be introduced to all of the aspects of our professional moving operation,” said Bailey.
The Backstage Soundcheck tour takes place when Earth, Wind & Fire performs at the Borgata in Atlantic City, N.J., on Sept. 2. For more information, visit musicisunity.org.