A group of 20+ talented and incredibly resilient African children living amidst poverty and disease continue to show the world that there is hope in spite of the heartache and terror they have suffered during their short lives. Many of these youngsters have experienced the loss of one or both of their parents as the result of famine, illness or war and yet they are still able to lift their voices in song. Those who have been fortunate enough to see them perform on a variety of television shows such as American Idol, The Tonight Show and The Ellen Degeneres Show, will never forget the emotions generated by these remarkable young people. From their humble beginnings on a continent plagued with constant turmoil, these children literally fight for their future daily and yet somehow have managed to rise above the devastation that has been their lives. They have performed their contemporary and traditional music for royalty, presidents, and members of the United Nations General Assembly. The choir has performed side by side with such notable musicians as Sir Paul McCartney and Mariah Carey at the 2005 Live 8 Concert in London.
An Anglican priest, Ray Barnett, created the African Children’s Choir 24 years ago. In the ’70’s, while touring Uganda as research for a book about the plight of African families long-ravaged by war and natural disasters, he encountered an orphaned child along a road and offered him a ride to the next village. The youth surprised the priest by singing his heart out in appreciation throughout the entire journey. The hundreds more children he witnessed scavenging both the bush and urban areas for food and water so moved Barnett that he felt compelled to bring attention to their struggle. He was inspired to establish the relief organization, Music for Life, which has provided support and education to thousands of children living in many African countries including Uganda, Sudan, Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria, Somalia and South Africa. After touring with the choir for a year, the children return to their country of origin. They, as well as their siblings, are provided a comprehensive education continuing through college. Many eventually pursue professional careers in fields such as engineering, medicine, education and law. These strong-spirited young people have shown the world that one person’s desire to help another human being by providing a hand up, as opposed to a hand out, can truly make a difference.
The Grammy-nominated choir will perform their Journey of Hope Concert at 8 pm, Saturday, February 2, 2008, at the Ferst Center for the Arts located at 349 Ferst Drive on the Georgia Tech campus in downtown Atlanta. Tickets range in price from $15 to $25. For more information and directions, please call 404-894-9600 or log onto http://www.ferstcenter.gatech.edu/ To see the choir’s complete itinerary for 2008, as well as information concerning ways you can help through donations and volunteer opportunities, log onto http://www.africanchildrenschoir.com/
Joyful sound, higher purpose, Jen Christensen, January 28, 2008, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, p. D10