BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – This week, one of Louisiana’s most recognizable politicians was honored with a Grammy.
Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.C. (R-LA) accepted the award during the annual Grammys on the Hill Awards ceremony Wednesday. Every year, the event is held to highlight Congressional leaders for their efforts in promoting peace and the protection of artists.
Cassidy was honored for helping 272 musicians leave Afghanistan when chaos unfolded during a 2021 insurrection. As the Taliban attempted to seize control of the country, locals were desperate to get out of the country. But their efforts were thwarted when suicide bombers and gunmen attacked crowds who were trying to get to Kabul’s airport.
Students, staff and faculty with the Afghanistan National Institute of Music were among the many trying to escape, according to Cassidy. At one point, the ANIM students found themselves in the thick of the mayhem. They were waiting on buses just outside of the airport, hoping to make it through the gates and out of the country.
Cassidy is credited with getting them to safety. He reportedly sent messages to the commanders at the airport, instructing them to open the gates for the students. Cassidy’s team also reports that he repeatedly advocated on behalf of the students when paperwork issues became a problem. The senator is said to have continuously worked with the Qatar government to ensure their safe passage.
After the Grammy awards, Cassidy tweeted, “It was an honor to receive a GRAMMY for helping the young women of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM) escape the Taliban after the fall of Afghanistan. The Taliban may try to snatch away the hope of freedom, but these women prove to all Afghans there is hope.”
The ANIM students and staff who were rescued now live with their families in Portugal, where they were offered official residency. The rescue efforts on their behalf are known as the largest evacuation out of Afghanistan and the last major evacuation since the Taliban wrested control of the nation.
The Wednesday, April 26 ceremony also recognized the efforts of 13-time Grammy winner Pharrell Williams and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY).
“Music carried the spirits of the students at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music through to freedom,” Cassidy said. “No matter where you are in the world—Kabul or New Orleans—music communicates resilience, passion, and culture.”