By John Elliott

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A man who has been making music for over 50 years is now using music to inspire kids.

CBS2’s John Elliott went “Steppin’ Out” with a story to “Cherish.”

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Robert “Kool” Bell of Kool & The Gang has a message for COVID.

“Hey, hey, hey, what you got to say, COVID go away, ’cause we want to play,” he said.

Pre-COVID, the Grammy Award-winning band was doing over 100 shows a year.

“We got fans all over the world. I mean, we play anywhere from Africa to Asia,” Bell said. “We even played behind the Iron Curtain one time… Those fans, they love us and they want to see us.”

The pandemic pause gave the group an opportunity to record. After a 10-year break, they have a brand-new album out inspired by the Constitution. One track on the album is called “Pursuit of Happiness.”

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Monday, the tireless troubadour was making a different kind of music, ringing the closing bell at the New York Stock Exchange to promote his Kool Kids Foundation, which uses music to educate, motivate and inspire kids to do more and be more.

“I think it’s important to give back to kids because kids are our future,” Bell said.

The music of Bell’s youth shaped his lifelong passion.

“I started when I was 14 years old, so I was a kid,” he said. “I’d go see the Temptations, or Smokey. I’d say ‘Wow, maybe one day we’ll be like that.'”

Nowadays, he attributes the band’s continued multigenerational appeal to a fuzzy take on some of their hits. The Muppets did “Jungle Boogie” and “Celebration.”

From making music as a kid in the ’60s, to helping kids use music to enrich their lives now, Robert “Kool” Bell just keeps celebrating.

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If you’d like to learn more about the Kool Kids Foundation, CLICK HERE.

John Elliott