Celebrities join forces to push for youth music education funding on the Hill
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A “Madam Secretary” actor, a former New York Yankee and a rapper are joining forces — teaming up to advocate for music education funding on Capitol Hill.

“Music education really, really changed my life,” Erich Bergen, who stars as Blake Moran, a policy adviser to the fictional secretary of State on CBS’s “Madam Secretary,” tells ITK about why he’s headed to the halls of Congress on Wednesday.

Bergen, along with former baseball pro Bernie Williams and music producer J. Dash, will be among the advocates teaming up with the National Association of Music Merchants and the VH1 Save the Music Foundation to push lawmakers for money toward public school music education and full funding for the Every Student Succeeds Act.

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Thirty-three-year-old Bergen, who also starred in Broadway’s “Waitress” last year, credits his role on the Washington-centric TV series for helping spur some of his interest in getting some face time with lawmakers.

“Being involved with the show, the research we do for every episode, I didn’t realize that all of these things, it’s such a fight. I didn’t really understand how lobbying works, I didn’t really understand how all this stuff worked,” he says. “When I began to study it and understand it — at least part of it frustrated me — but it also made me extremely even more passionate. I wanted to get in the trenches and get in the fight.”

Bergen, who was in town last year for the same issue, says he’s found some “Madam Secretary” fans among the lawmakers with whom he’s met.

“I keep expecting it to be like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ where doctors can’t actually watch that show because it’s too close to work,” he says with a laugh. But, on the contrary, “people in D.C. really seem to be passionate about our show. I think it’s because we’re focusing on such specific topics that people are passionate about here and we address them correctly and appropriately.”

Bergen says even in such a divided, partisan political climate, he’s hopeful that Congress will see the value in music education.

“I don’t see how music is partisan,” he says.

“I think there’s this association that somehow the Republican side of things, that they’re not for the arts — but that’s simply not true. And I think if there’s anything that can unite us, it’s music.”