Having toured in five continents, this musical performing group has performed as backup singers for the likes of Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, Josh Groban, and many others. With audiences such as the Queen of England as well as the White House, and contributions to the soundtracks of Blood Diamond and Pan, they were nominated for a Grammy in 1992. Performing since 1984, this 18 member choir consists of children ages seven to 12 years old. Hailing from African nations such as Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Sudan, this internationally renowned performing group with too many accomplishments to list, will be making a stop at the Goshen Christian Reformed Church on February 4, at 6:30 p.m. They will also perform Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m. at the West Point Chapel.
It all began more than 30 years ago in 1984. While traveling through war-torn Uganda, relief worker Ray Barnett gave a ride to an orphaned child who couldn’t think of any other way to repay Barnett for his kindness than to sing. This one song was the beginning of a journey that would work towards the transformation of African countries by educating children.
With many of the choir’s children being orphaned and having lost their parents to AIDS, war, and other diseases, they are all victims of extreme poverty. Although not affiliated with any Christian organization, the choir is a Christian-based organization dedicated to instilling Christian principles through teaching and leading by example.
Their repertoire consists of a combination of ethnic worship music, African drumming, Contemporary Christian, Gospel, and Inspirational music combined with traditional dance and Ugandan costumes designed by former choir members. This group has wowed audiences in small, intimate venues such as the Hudson Valley’s Goshen Christian Reformed Church, as well as the White House. Sometimes singing in English, sometimes in their native Ugnadan language, this inspirational troupe of elementary-age children are a living study in the roots of modern Gospel music. Dedicated to bringing not only the sounds and spirit of the children of this war-torn region of Africa to the rest of the world, the African Children’s Choir is an umbrella organization of Music for Life. Based in Langley, BC with an American office in Billingham, WA, Music for Life has focused on creating new leadership for tomorrow’s Africa through education, as well as direct aid to its children. Through the facilitation of over forty tours throughout the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, Music for Life has been instrumental in the operation and funding of 35 schools throughout Africa, with the proceeds of their performances being instrumental in the education of 52,000 children over their 30-plus years of existence.
When not rehearsing or performing, each child is educated with the Ugandan curriculum, and are instructed by former choir members from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in space provided by host churches. Once the students age-out after seventh grade, they are required to take an exam to determine the track of the remainder of their education.
By Matt Barbero