The choir blended song, unique dance and incorporated multiple languages during their April 14 perfromance. The concert included drums, costume changes and African beats.
“These kids do it best. They come from extreme poverty and are singing to spread hope to others in Uganda,” said Kari Penrod, tour leader for the Children’s Choir.
Penrod said many of the children have lost one or both parents to starvation or disease, and are from backgrounds of extreme poverty. The choir relies on donations that fund education and relief efforts for African children affected by these conditions.
“I’m so proud of them every time I watch them perform. They are ambassadors for their country and are raising awareness about other orphans in Africa,” she explained.
The 16-member choir, made up of children between ages seven and 11 from Uganda, performed songs in many different African languages, but mainly in Luganda, which is the main language spoken in Uganda. Songs included “It takes a Whole Village,” “O Happy Day” and an encore performance of “Walking in the Light.”
About mid-way through the choir’s performance, each of the choir members introduced themselves to the audience and briefly said what they wanted to be when they grew up. The professions included: midwife, bus driver for the African Children’s Choir tour, teacher and nurse.
During the two-night visit in Calhoun, the 16-member boys and girls choir studied with a tutor during the day and had Bible study and playtime. At night, they stayed with volunteer host families. Penrod said the children have seen a lot of different parks, sites and attractions; among the choir’s favorites are Niagara Falls and the Montgomery Zoo.
Visit www.africanchildrenschoir.com to learn about tour dates, music and how to sponsor a child.
According to the African Children’s Choir website, africanchildrenschoir.com, thousands of children were orphaned and left starving in 1984, following Uganda’s brutal civil war. During that time, the African Children’s Choir was created; the movement was led by founder and minister Ray Barnett and a team of volunteers.
“We formed the first African Children’s Choir to show the world that Africa’s most vulnerable children have beauty, dignity and unlimited ability,” according to the site.
“With a focus on education, the choir has been working with the most vulnerable young people of Africa for more than 25 years,” according to a press release from the organization. “The organization cares for several thousand underprivileged children: children who could have lost hope, but have overcome their circumstances and now make a positive impact on society.”
This year’s choir has performed throughout Canada for three months and will travel throughout the south for the remainder of their tour.
“Each year,” according to the release, “a new choir is selected and the children from the previous year return to their homelands to attend school. Their education is funded by the African Children’s Choir.”
In a short video at the concert, attendees got to see video footage of former African Children’s Choir members who have grown up and attended universities and trained to professional leaders in Africa.
Many of the former African children’s choir members that have grown up have given back by continuing to work with the choir.