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tv   60 Minutes  CBS  April 3, 2011 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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captioning funded by cbs and ford-- built for the road ahead. >> pelley: in the 1930s, we had bread lines. venture out before dawn today and you'll find mortgage lines, average americans hoping to lower their payments to save their homes. banks are filing foreclosure lawsuits by the millions, and in the rush to collect, it appears some financial firms have used phony legal documents to throw people out of their homes. chris pendley says he forged 4,000 bogus mortgage documents a day for major u.s. banks. and your previous experience in banking? >> none.
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>> say your name! >> ( saying names loudly ) >> stahl: vy higginsen's goal is to bring gospel to kids more likely to have been raised on hip hop, kids between the ages of 13 and 19 who gather in harlem each week from all over new york and new jersey to study the tradition and the art of singing gospel. >> ♪ let my people go... >> this music can make it better. it will make life better. >> ♪ let my people go... >> i'm steve kroft. >> i'm lesley stahl. >> i'm bob simon. >> i'm morley safer. >> i'm lara logan. >> i'm scott pelley. those stories tonight on "60 minutes."
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>> pelley: if there was a question about whether we're headed for a second housing shock, that was settled last week with news that home prices have fallen a sixth consecutive month. values are down nearly to the levels of the great recession. one thing weighing on the economy is the huge number of foreclosed houses. many are stuck on the market for a reason that you wouldn't expect-- banks can't find the ownership documents. it's bizarre, but it turns out that wall street cut corners when it created those mortgage- backed investments that triggered the financial collapse. now that banks want to evict people, they're unwinding these exotic investments to find that, often, the legal documents behind the mortgages aren't there. caught in a jam of their own making, some companies appear to be resorting to forgery and phony paperwork to throw people, down on their luck, out of their homes. in the 1930s, we had breadlines.
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venture out before dawn in america today and you'll find mortgage lines. these folks on the street aren't homeless; they slept on the sidewalk because they want to keep their homes. facing foreclosure, they camped out in january to get in line to beg their bank for lower payments on their mortgage. so many in the country are desperate now that they have to meet in convention centers coast to coast. this was los angeles, where 37,000 homeowners gathered. and this was miami in february, where the worry was visible and shared by 12,000 more. the line went down the block and doubled back twice. dale defreitas lost her job; now, she fears, her home is next. >> dale defreitas: it's very emotional, because i just think about it. i don't want to lose my home. i really don't. >> pelley: it's your american dream >> defreitas: it was.
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and it still is. >> pelley: these convention center events are put on by the non-profit neighborhood assistance corporation of america, which helps people figure out what they can afford, and then walks them across the hall to bank representatives to ask for lower payments. more than half will get their mortgages adjusted, but the rest discover that they just can't keep their home. and for many, that's when the real surprise comes in. turns out these banks, which demand borrowers have all of their paperwork just right-- these same banks have fouled up all of their own paperwork to a historic degree. >> lynn szymoniak: in my mind, this is an absolute intentional fraud. >> pelley: lynn szymoniak is fighting foreclosure. and while trying to save her house, she discovered something we did not know. back when wall street was using algorithms and computers to engineer those disastrous
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mortgage-backed securities, it appears they didn't want old fashioned paperwork slowing down the profits. this was back when it was a white hot fevered pitch to move as many of these as possible. >> szymoniak: exactly. when you could make a whole lot of money through securitization. and every other aspect of it could be done electronically-- you know, key strokes. this was the only piece where somebody was supposed to actually go get documents, transfer the documents from one entity to the other. and it looks very much like they just eliminated that step altogether. >> pelley: szymoniak's mortgage had been bundled with thousands of others into one of those wall street securities traded from investor to investor. when the bank took szymoniak to court, it first said that it had lost her documents, including the critical assignment of mortgage, which transfers ownership. but then, there was a courthouse surprise. they found all of your paperwork more than a year after they initially said that they had lost it? >> szymoniak: yes. >> pelley: did that seem
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suspicious to you? >> szymoniak: yes, absolutely. it... you know, what do you imagine, it fell behind the file cabinet? where was all of this? "we had it, we own it, we lost it." and then, more recently, everyone is coming in saying, "hey, we found it. isn't that wonderful?" >> pelley: but what the bank may not have known is lynn szymoniak is a lawyer and fraud investigator with a specialty in forged documents. she has trained fbi agents. did you ask for copies of those documents? >> szymoniak: yes. >> pelley: and what did you find? >> szymoniak: when i looked at the assignment of mortgage-- and this is the assignment, a copy from my case-- it looked that, even the date they put in, which was 10/17/08, was several months after they sued me for foreclosure. so, what they were saying to the court was, "we sued her in july of 2008 and we acquired this mortgage in october of 2008." it made absolutely no sense. >> pelley: curious, she used her
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legal training to go online and researched 10,000 mortgages. >> szymoniak: then, i began to find the strange signatures. >> pelley: one of the strangest signatures belonged to the bank vice-president who'd signed szymoniak's newly discovered mortgage documents. the name is linda green. but on thousands of other mortgages, the style of green's signature changed a lot, and even more remarkable, szymoniak found that linda green was vice- president of 20 banks, all at the same time. >> szymoniak: all within the same week. i mean, this is a very, very active person. >> pelley: where did all those documents come from? we went searching for the linda green, and we found her in rural georgia. she told us she's never been a bank vice-president. in 2003, she was a shipping clerk for auto parts when her grandson told her about a job at a company called docx, d-o-c-x. docx, once housed here, in
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alpharetta, georgia, was a sweatshop for forged mortgage documents. >> szymoniak: they were sitting in a room, signing their name as fast as they possibly could to any kind of nonsense document that was put in front of them. >> pelley: docx, and companies like it, were recreating missing mortgage assignments for the banks, and providing the legally required signatures of bank vice-presidents and notaries. linda green says she was named a bank vice-president by docx because her name was short and easy to spell. as demand exploded, docx needed more linda greens. so you're linda green? >> chris pendley: yeah. can't you tell? >> pelley: chris pendley worked a docx at the same time and signed as "linda green." when you came in to docx on your first day, what did they tell you your job was going to be? >> pendley: that i was going to be signing documents for... using someone else's name. >> pelley: did you think there
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was something strange about that in the beginning? >> pendley: yeah, it seemed a little strange. but they told us, and they repeatedly told us, that everything was above board and it was legal. >> pelley: and your previous experience in banking? >> pendley: none. >> pelley: in legal documents? >> pendley: none. >> pelley: there really were no requirements for the job? >> pendley: correct. >> pelley: you had to be able to hold a pen? >> pendley: hold a pen. >> pelley: but you were signing these documents as if you were an officer of the bank? >> pendley: correct. >> pelley: how many banks were you vice-president of in a given day? >> pendley: i would guess somewhere around five to six. >> pelley: what were you getting paid for this? >> pendley: i'm embarrassed to say-- $10 an hour. >> pelley: $10 an hour. that's not much for a guy who's vice-president of five banks. >> pendley: yeah. i was underpaid for my title, my stature in the companies. >> pelley: pendley showed us how he signed mortgage documents as "linda green." he told us that docx employees had to sign at least 350 an hour. pendley estimates that he alone did 4,000 a day.
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this is also linda green. shawanna crite worked at docx, and says that she both signed and notarized the mortgage documents. what was the role of the notary? >> shawanna crite: we were to make sure that everyone on the document was who they said they were, and notarize the... the documents. >> pelley: but the people who were signing the documents weren't who they said they were. >> crite: right. >> pelley: so, if chris pendley was signing for linda green, you'd notarize that document. >> crite: yes. >> pelley: and you were told that was okay? >> crite: yes. >> pelley: what do you know now? >> crite: that it wasn't right. ( laughs ) >> pelley: the real linda green didn't want to be interviewed, but she said that some of the bank vice-presidents at docx were high school kids. their signatures were entered into evidence in untold thousands of foreclosure suits that sent families packing. >> szymoniak: so, it was a common practice in the last few years to flood the courts with these documents.
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>> pelley: and look at some of the junk the courts were flooded with. sometimes, the document mill didn't even bother to fill in the names of the supposed owners. to them, it seemed like a joke. >> szymoniak: instead of the name of the bank here that was acquiring the loan, this one says, "bogus assignee for intervening assignments." that's who acquired this loan. >> pelley: this was an actual document that was in litigation? >> szymoniak: yes. and what corporation assigned this loan? a corporation identified as a "bad bene." excuse me? when i saw that, i was just absolutely amazed. >> pelley: what does that mean, a "bad bene"? >> szymoniak: it could possibly mean a bad beneficiary. i have no idea what they meant. so here's the same woman, linda green, and this time, instead of being a vice-president of american home mortgage servicing, she's vice-president of a bad bene. >> pelley: szymoniak says that the banks whose paperwork was
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handled by the docx forgery mill include wells fargo, hsbc, deutsche bank, citibank, u.s. bank, and bank of america. we contacted all of them, and each said that it farmed out its mortgage servicing work to other companies, and it was those mortgage servicing firms that hired docx. docx was owned by a company called l.p.s., a $2 billion firm that calls itself the nation's leading provider of mortgage processing services. l.p.s. told us that when it found out about the phony signatures in 2009, it shut docx down. the fbi and several states are investigating. there were a million foreclosures last year, and there will be another million this year. those lawsuits are forcing open those bundled mortgage-backed securities that wall street cooked up in the mid-2000s, and they're exposing a lack of ownership documents all across
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the country. >> sheila bair: it's astonishing to me that this had become as pervasive as a problem that it is. >> pelley: it got sloppy. >> bair: it got very sloppy >> pelley: sheila bair is one of the government's top banking regulators, as chairman of the federal deposit insurance corporation. you just described it as pervasive. >> bair: yeah. it is pervasive. it absolutely is pervasive. it was just a matter of cutting corners, not spending enough money and not having any quality controls. >> pelley: incompetent banking back then is causing foreclosure ghettos today. although banks say the courts have been accepting their paperwork, now, that's changing, as desperate homeowners counter- sue the banks over the document fiasco. this leaves houses unsold indefinitely, undermining the recovery. >> bair: i am very worried about, if this starts getting out of hand, the kind of impact it will have. >> pelley: these are lawsuits by homeowners who are being foreclosed upon... >> bair: or have... are in the process or have already been foreclosed on. >> pelley: ...saying, "prove it"? >> bair: yes, exactly. >> pelley: "prove that you own
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this." >> bair: exactly. >> pelley: how big an issue is that going to be? there are 30,000 today. >> bair: i think this litigation could easily get out of control. and we would like to get ahead of it. we're already... we're already feeling like we're falling behind it. >> pelley: chairman bair thinks rotten mortgage documents are so threatening to the economy that the government should force banks to pay into a massive fund. you think there needs to be a cleanup fund just like for a natural disaster. >> bair: i do. yes, somewhat like that. yes, this is... yes, this is one of human making, but yes. >> pelley: you don't want to give an exact dollar amount for this cleanup fund, but what are we talking about. is it billions? >> bair: yes. i would assume it would be billions, yes. >> pelley: billions of dollars. >> bair: yes, absolutely. >> pelley: chairman bair's proposed cleanup fund would pay homeowners to accept a bank's ownership claim without a lawsuit. she says that this could be cheaper for the banks than trying to recreate the missing documents legitimately and not through the document mills. >> bair: i think, eventually, the bank could prove who owned it. but it would take... it would take a lot of time and expense.
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>> pelley: you know, none of the major banks were willing to sit down with us and talk to us about this, not even the american bankers association. >> bair: i'm sorry to hear that. >> pelley: why do you think that is? >> bair: they're feeling very defensive now. and so, i can only assume that is the reason that they declined. >> pelley: the banks are defensive because all 50 state attorneys general want to punish them. the states are seeking about $20 billion in damages for what they say is the irresponsible, perhaps criminal, way that some mortgage companies handled what is, for most folks, the most important investment of their lives. we used to bet who could get closest to the edge. took some crazy risks as a kid. but i was still over the edge with my cholesterol. anyone with high cholesterol may be at increased risk of heart attack. diet and exercise weren't enough for me.
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>> stahl: there's a street in harlem that comes alive every saturday with the sound of music, gospel music. you won't find any church there; just a brownstone full of teenagers and the woman who draws them in. her name is vy higginsen, a new york radio personality and theater producer. and five years ago, she created something called gospel for teens. never heard of it? well, we think you'll be glad you did. and if you're thinking that vy higginsen thought up this program as a way to save the teens, you'd be wrong. she did it to save the music. >> ♪ go down, moses... >> stahl: these are the faces and voices of gospel for teens-- kids between the ages of 13 and 19 who gather in harlem each week from all over new york and
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new jersey to study the tradition and the art of singing gospel. ♪ ♪ >> vy higginsen: it's uniquely american. it's a story of a people in song created out of an american experience. >> stahl: and you are not going to let it die. >> higginsen: no. >> stahl: this is vy higginsen's advanced class. >> ♪ this is the way we praise you... >> stahl: but each fall, she brings in a new group, putting out a call for auditions in local papers, on radio, and in churches. she calls them her beginners, and we asked if we could come along. >> higginsen: we'll take the first singer, please. >> ♪ jehovah... >> stahl: yolanda howard, age 14, had arrived by subway from the bronx before the mikes were even set up. >> yolanda howard: i was so happy, because i was the first person.
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♪ ♪ >> stahl: and she brought along her friend, rhonda rodriguez, who started off a little shaky. >> ♪ ♪ >> stahl: were you nervous? >> rhonda rodriguez: i was really nervous. >> higginsen: hold up. move her to "this little light of mine." >> stahl: did you think you had gotten in? >> rodriguez: no. >> stahl: did they really, really have to be great in the audition? >> higginsen: absolutely not. they simply have to carry a tune. we don't expect them to be great; they're teenagers. >> stahl: of course, great is welcome, too. >> ♪ amazing grace.... >> stahl: vy higginsen's goal is to bring gospel to kids more likely to have been raised on hip hop. >> ♪ the sound...
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>> higginsen: that's it? where's the rest of the song? that's why we have this school. >> stahl: so she and the teachers she calls "music masters," including her own daughter knoelle, want to accept as many kids as they can. but there were a few who seemed to throw them... >> gabby francois: ♪ joyful, joyful lord... >> stahl: ...like 16-year-old gabby francois. >> ♪ joyful, joyful lord, we adore thee... i want you to bring it up. >> francois: ♪ joyful, joyful lord... >> stahl: something about her seemed to puzzle vy. >> higginsen: i was curious, and i couldn't put my finger on it. what's under the scarf? >> francois: my hair; i didn't do it. >> higginsen: so you can't take it off? what is it? there was something else going on behind the music.
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>> francois: ♪ this little light of mine... >> stahl: she stopped singing. >> higginsen: yeah. part of me wanted to say, "is this going to be trouble?" >> stahl: why didn't you say that? >> higginsen: something stopped me from saying it. uh, who's next? >> stahl: if there was a star of this audition, it would be 14- year-old david moses from brooklyn, who walked in just before the audition ended. >> david moses: ♪ amazing grace... >> stahl: david sings in his church choir. he knew the song all the way through. >> moses: it fills me with a lot of joy when i sing, so i just sing. >> stahl: all the time? >> moses: yes. >> stahl: walking down the street? >> moses: yes. >> stahl: in the shower? >> moses: yes. >> stahl: doing homework? >> moses: yes. >> pelley: david had heard about gospel for teens from a friend, and thought that his dad was going to drive him to harlem that day. >> he said, "listen, dad, you going to take me to the audition?" i said, "what audition?" >> we actually forgot about it.
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>> stahl: they forgot? >> moses: they actually forgot about the audition. >> stahl: so they asked a friend to take david and hold up a cell phone during his audition so they could listen in. >> moses: ♪ ♪ >> my son was singing. the place was going crazy. >> moses: ♪ ♪ ( cheers and applause ) >> let me tell you, the next week, i made sure daddy and mommy was bringing him back to class. >> higginsen: i want to formally welcome you... >> stahl: and that next saturday, there they were, the 46 kids vy chose as her new beginners class. >> moses: my name's david. i'm 14. i'm from brooklyn. >> stahl: including yolanda howard, her friend rhonda rodriguez, who thought she wouldn't get in, and gabby francois, this time without the scarf. vy had decided to give her a
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chance. >> higginsen: we're learning the music of gospel as an art form. >> stahl: vy scrapes together the money for this program from grants, small donations, and ticket sales. she insists that the kids learn to sing gospel for free. i want you to begin to shake your hands. shake. shake. >> stahl: why shaking before singing? it's part warm-up, part message- - "leave everything but the music outside the door." >> higginsen: any worry, any pain, any problem with your mother, your father, your sister, your brother, the dog, the boyfriend-- i want that out, now, of your consciousness. that's your baggage. leave the bags outside, because this time is for you. ♪ ♪ >> stahl: you feel all their troubles go. >> higginsen: i feel it. i see it. the next thing you know, i see a smile. and i know that's when they're ready. and i'll make them shake until i get it.
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( laughs ) >> greg kelly: ♪ i have come... >> stahl: and then, music master greg kelly started working his magic. ♪ ♪ >> higginsen: i'm going, "whoa, this group's a little extra." they had a little spark. ♪ ♪ >> stahl: by the end of their first lesson-- a single two-hour class-- this group of 46 strangers had learned not one, but three songs, each in three- part harmony. ♪ ♪ >> higginsen: wow. first day of school.
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>> stahl: but a few weeks later... >> higginsen: everybody, all at once, say your name out loud. >> stahl: ...we were surprised to find vy coaching the kids, not on a challenging piece of music, but on something you'd think would be easy-- saying their names. >> howard: yolanda howard. bronx. 14. >> stahl: it's an exercise she developed after the first auditions for gospel for teens, when she could barely hear the kids introduce themselves. and it troubled her. >> higginsen: they were mumbling, and they were saying it under their breath. and i just... "this is terrible." >> amber castle: amber castle. new york city. >> stahl: to have those little teeny voices that you can't hear is almost to say, "i'm ashamed." >> higginsen: "i'm ashamed of who i am and where i come from." no. >> kristin poston: kristen poston. 15. brooklyn, new york. >> vanity stubbs: vanity stubbs. 16. brooklyn, new york. >> francois: sorry. >> stahl: this wasn't the first time gabby francois had drawn attention.
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did any of the music masters come to you and talk to you about gabby...? >> higginsen: yeah. >> stahl: ...slouching... >> higginsen: chewing gum, slouching, watching, not singing. y'all can't go like that. say it again. >> francois: gabrielle francois. >> stahl: so during the next break, vy was in there trying to draw gabby out. >> higginsen: come on. come on. >> francois: gabrielle francois. 17. brooklyn. >> higginsen: come on. come on, come on. come on, come on. >> francois: i thought you was talking to him. >> higginsen: no, you. >> francois: i said it. >> stahl: and that was just the beginning of the drama in the room that day. >> howard: yolanda howard. 14 years old. bronx, new york. >> rodriguez: (quietly): rhonda rodriguez... >> higginsen: come on, you can do it. support her. ( applause ) >> stahl: she broke down. >> higginsen: she broke down.
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>> higginsen: you want to do it later? she's going to do it later. but you're coming back. >> stahl: at that point, did you know anything about what her personal life was like? >> higginsen: nothing. >> stahl: zero. >> higginsen: nothing. only what was presented in front of me. i saw her tears. i saw her eyes. i saw her nervousness about saying her name. >> rodriguez: rhonda rodriguez. 15. bronx, new york. >> okay. we'll work with you next week, okay? >> stahl: vy started gospel for teens with the clear idea of leaving all the baggage at the door, but as she has learned-- and as we saw-- sometimes, it creeps back in. >> higginsen: it's going to be all right. >> stahl: we wondered about rhonda's life outside this place, what might make the simple act of saying her name feel so overwhelming. and when we asked, it led us here, to one of the toughest parts of new york city, the south bronx, where rhonda is
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being raised by carmen rivera. so, you are not her mother. >> carmen rivera: no, ma'am. >> stahl: are you her grandmother? >> rivera: no. >> stahl: she's her grandmother's mother. you're her great-grandmother? >> rivera: yes. >> stahl: and she's had rhonda since she was a baby. do you know your mother? >> rodriguez: yeah, i know my mother. >> stahl: is she in your life? >> rodriguez: no, she comes around, like, probably twice or three times a year. >> stahl: that's painful. >> rodriguez: yeah. it's been happening all my life, so i'm pretty much used to it, so... >> stahl: and she's not alone. it turns out that the entire building where rhonda lives is set aside for kids being raised by grandparents. rhonda's friend yolanda, who had been the first to audition, lives two floors up with her great aunt, melvenia smith. yolanda met her father for the first time ever just last year. >> melvenia smith: he came to my house and he told his big, elaborate tale about, "i'm here
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for you." he gave her $20 and, "i'll be back on sunday to take you to the movie." she stayed home from church that sunday, waiting for him. he never showed up, and that's been a year ago. >> howard: i mean, i forgive him because it wasn't his fault. >> stahl: what wasn't his fault? >> howard: because he had to work. that was his excuse. >> stahl: so you wrote a song about it. >> howard: yes. >> stahl: can you sing it for us? >> howard: i'd love to. all right. ♪ even though i may not know you, i suppose ♪ even though i kind of miss you, that i know... >> smith: we are women. we can take the mother place, but we can't take the father place. "where is he?" >> howard: ♪ oh, daddy ♪ daddy, father, where were you when i needed you the most? ♪ daddy, daddy
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♪ father, where were you? and where are you now...? >> stahl: that is unbelievable. you're smiling and i'm not. why do you say you forgive him? i don't forgive him. i don't. you're a child. >> howard: yes. >> ♪ joshua fought the battle of jericho... >> stahl: but up on stage four months into this program, yolanda howard was not a girl struggling with an absent father. she was one of 40 kids stomping and clapping and singing their hearts out in the first gospel music competition gospel for teens had ever entered. ♪ ♪ >> higginsen: they tore that up. i'm sorry, they tore that stage up. ( cheers and applause )
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>> our grand prize winner: gospel for teens from harlem, u.s.a. ( cheers and applause ) >> higginsen: i just wanted to hug them. i wanted them to see what it feels like to win. ( laughs ) >> stahl: and this is where the story should end, shouldn't it? but life is sometimes more complicated, as we discovered as the gospel for teens beginners moved into their second semester, which you will see when we come back. [ thud ] ♪ [ thud ] [ horn honks ] ♪ [ car alarm deactivates ] [ crash ] ♪
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it pays to switch, it pays to discover. [children screaming] [growl] i met my husband here. i got to know my grandkids here. we've discovered so much here together. but my doctor told me that during that time my high cholesterol was contributing to plaque buildup in my arteries. that's why i'm fighting my cholesterol... with crestor. along with diet, crestor does more than help manage cholesterol, when diet and exercise alone aren't enough. crestor is also proven to slow plaque buildup in arteries. crestor is not right for everyone, like people with liver disease, or women who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant. simple blood tests will check for liver problems. tell your doctor about other medicines you are taking, or if you have muscle pain or weakness. that could be a sign of serious side effects. ask your doctor if crestor is right for you. i love it when we're here together.
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>> stahl: when vy higginsen started gospel for teens, she had no intention of creating a
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therapy program for at-risk kids. and in fact, many of the teens who go don't seem to be at risk at all. they come from stable, intact middle-class homes, like david moses. ♪ ♪ darrell and veronica moses sing with their children, and make sure they're home for dinner as a family. every night. >> veronica moses: after your practice, you come straight home. we have to raise our children. if we don't, someone else will... >> darrell moses: straight home. >> veronica moses: ...meaning the streets, drugs, gangs, you name it. >> stahl: do you think it's harder to raise a young black teenager? >> darrell moses: yeah. i grew up in the projects, and i watched my father go through a lot to hold onto his family. and one of the reasons why you see me here-- not just my wife,
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but you see me here also-- is because i vowed that i would walk this walk with them. they can turn around years from now and say, "my father was right there." >> ♪ how can anyone ever tell you... >> stahl: gospel for teens has a theme song, and vy says she chose it for a reason. >> higginsen: i actually weeped when i heard it. ♪ ♪ "don't let anybody ever tell you that you're anything less than beautiful." ( sighs ) >> rodriguez: ♪ ...that you're less than whole... >> stahl: what did it mean to you? >> rodriguez: it means, to me, that i feel actually kind of special, in a way. >> higginsen: that song is designed to empower you and to
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think about yourself differently than you think somebody else may have thought about you, to change your mind. >> stahl: it certainly seemed to change something in gabby francois. ♪ ♪ >> stahl: gabby, of all people, gets up and starts singing this song. >> higginsen: surprised. i was surprised, touched. i mean, she wanted to. ♪ ♪ >> stahl: but what touched vy even more was an email gabby sent when the year was almost over, explaining what this place has meant to her. she read me the email. >> francois: "i may seem quiet in class or upset, but it's only because i build up all my pain so i can sing it all out." "my mother doesn't really appreciate the fact that i sing.
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i actually snuck out for the audition for gospel for teens. that's why you never see her around, or my dad. miss vy, you believed in me when no one else did." that's all i had to say. >> higginsen: my god. we had no idea what it meant to her. >> stahl: she wanted you to know. >> higginsen: it's a big lesson for me, because if i had only looked at her surface-- that judgment, it's so quick to dismiss. "out. i don't like your attitude." >> stahl: then, one rainy saturday in early may, just weeks before their final, end- of-the-year performance, the kids-- and we-- walked into something none of us were expecting. we found a shaken vy reversing her own policy and asking kids to bring their baggage in. >> higginsen: how many of you have lost somebody recently?
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oh, my god. >> stahl: it seemed more hands were up than down. >> i lost my cousin when i was going into my sophomore year. >> stahl: his cousin was stabbed to death in front of him. >> castle: i lost my cousin a year ago. >> higginsen: how old? >> castle: thirteen. >> higginsen: thirteen? >> castle: drive by. >> stahl: the amount of violence and loss in so many of these young people's lives... >> he died at 19. >> stahl: ...seemed to come as a shock to vy. what prompted her to ask when she hadn't wanted to know? it was the news that david moses' cousin had just died, a 15-year-old like david, killed by a gunshot to the head. vy asked him to come before his classmates and sing it out. >> david moses: ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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>> stahl: even david moses, with that wonderful close family, and his 15-year-old cousin died from a gunshot wound. >> higginsen: ( sighs ) >> david moses: ♪ ♪ >> stahl: the music, the words are about struggle, and a lot of these kids are there. they're struggling. >> higginsen: they are struggling. we live in a violent society. so now, what do you do with all that? how do you get it off of you? how do you live? >> ♪ the storm ♪ ♪ >> higginsen: you have to go somewhere where there's sacred ground, where there's hope, where there's possibility, where there's a better life. >> stahl: which, of course, is exactly what gospel music was designed to provide in the first place. ♪ ♪
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do you tell the kids the history, how this music grew out of slavery? >> higginsen: i tell them that the first right as african americans in this country was the right to sing. that was allowed during slavery. before reading, writing, school, church, we could sing. >> ♪ he reigns... he reigns... >> stahl: so, as gospel for teens erupted on stage for their big spring concert before a packed hall, we're not sure how much the kids were thinking about this music's history, but for two hours, they sure captured its power. ♪ ♪ and when it came time for their theme song, vy selected a surprise soloist. >> francois: i was so nervous, because i looked at the crowd. i'm like, "oh, that's a lot of people." >> stahl: gabby francois. >> francois: ♪ how can anyone
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ever tell you... ♪ that you're anything less than beautiful? ♪ how can anyone ever tell you... >> stahl: how do you think she did? >> higginsen: i thought she was wonderful. she needed to sing that song. >> stahl: we wondered whether gabby's parents had come to hear her sing this time. they had not. ♪ ♪ ( applause ) what do you think about these kids whose parents never come? >> higginsen: i can only think that they do it anyway. with or without their parents, they do it anyway. so what does that say about who they are-- their commitment, their resilience, their drive? all of those things are necessary for success.
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i got to let them introduce themselves to you. >> stahl: and then came that moment they'd been preparing for. >> higginsen: you know how i want you to say your name. ( saying names loudly ) >> stahl: she didn't want them to just say their name; she wanted them to shout it, to belt it out, because, she says, of who they are and where they've come from. >> higginsen: they're survivors. stand up. stand up and let people see you. be proud of the fact that you are survivors. >> francois: gabby! 17! brooklyn, new york! >> david moses: david moses! 15! brooklyn, new york! >> stahl: you're watching, and rhonda-- you know she's third, next, second, next... >> higginsen: yeah. i'm sitting on the edge of my seat.
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( laughs ) >> stahl: is she going to do it? >> higginsen: "is she going to do it?" >> rodriguez: rhonda rodriguez! >> higginsen: yes! she did it. >> ♪ go down moses... ♪ ♪ >> stahl: you spend nine months with these kids, you give them everything. and they finally get up for this performance. >> higginsen: i couldn't stay in my chair. my heart's dancing. my mind's racing. i'm watching everything and i'm watching everybody. >> stahl: and what she, and everyone else, saw that day was a group of teenagers transformed. ♪ ♪ >> francois: i can't even describe it. it's the most wonderful thing i ever been a part of with my life. ♪ ♪
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>> stahl: are you going to come back next year? >> david moses: definitely. >> stahl: definitely? >> david moses: definitely. >> stahl: what's going on inside? >> howard: joy. that's what's inside my heart all the time when i'm in here. >> stahl: do you ever think that you're actually saving some of these kids? >> higginsen: i guess i'm thinking that this music can make it better. it will make life better. it's victorious. and it grabs you. i mean, it's like, "yeah, i gotcha! whoo!" ♪ ♪ ( applause ) >> welcome to the cbs sports update presented by viagra.
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i'm greg gumbel in houston where butler and connecticut will meet tomorrow night in the ncaa national championship game, tip time 9:23 eastern. one update for you, uconn guard kemba walker hurt his ankle in yesterday's game, but head coach jim calhoun expects him to be fine. the butler bulldogs are riding a 14-game winning streak. the huskies have won ten in a row as they seek a third national title under calhoun. for more sports news and information, go to for more sports news and information, go to cbssports.com. about the world. and yourself. you're made of. and knowing how to get things done. so, why would you let something like erectile dysfunction get in your way? isn't it time you talked to your doctor about viagra? 20 million men already have. with every age comes responsibility. ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough for sex. do not take viagra if you take nitrates for chest pain, as it may cause an unsafe drop in blood pressure. side effects may include headache, flushing, upset stomach, and abnormal vision.
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>> pelley: i'm scott pelley. we'll be back next week with another edition of "60 minutes." one of the most challenging h financial climates, many of the smartest companies found a financial partner
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captioning funded by cbs, and ford-- built for the road ahead. captioned by media access group at wgbh acce.wgbh.org

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