WASHINGTON – Later this month, U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) will be honored at the GRAMMYs on the Hill Awards for his work in helping the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) escape from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control of the country in August 2021. The Recording Academy hosts the annual celebration to honor Congressional leaders for their work.
“Music carried the spirits of the students at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music through to freedom. No matter where you are in the world—Kabul or New Orleans—music communicates resilience, passion, and culture,” said Dr. Cassidy.
“GRAMMYs on the Hill is a celebration like no other, spotlighting music’s unifying power as we bring together our nation’s leaders with some of the most renowned artists in the world,” said Harvey Mason jr., CEO of the Recording Academy. “It’s a privilege to honor Pharrell alongside Senate Majority Leader Schumer and Senator Cassidy, all of whom have fought tirelessly for pro-music policy that protects the creatives that make up our community.”
Cassidy will be honored on Wednesday, April 26th, alongside 13-time GRAMMY winner Pharrell Williams and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
“I’m very grateful to be honored at this year’s GRAMMYs on the Hill among some incredible other honorees who have done tremendous advocacy work for others,” said Williams. “It’s important that we show up for each other and support one another to ensure that we can keep creating.”
During the fall of Afghanistan in 2021, Cassidy’s office had been involved in efforts to help 272 young musicians, faculty, and staff escape to freedom. When the ANIM students were in busses waiting outside Hamid Karzai International Airport during the chaos of the mass evacuation, Cassidy attempted to get them through the gates. He worked to get messages to the commanders of the airport to gain entry for the students. After the airport was sealed off following a deadly ISIS attack, he advocated to make the students a priority as paperwork issues became a problem and worked with the Qatar government on multiple occasions to secure safe passage for the students.
The ANIM group was the largest evacuation out of Afghanistan and was the last major evacuation since the country fell to Taliban control. The students, staff, and families now reside safely in Portugal, where they were offered official residency.