The acclaimed African Children’s Choir is bringing its energy, hope for a better future, and music for the soul as they visit Clive this month.
On Wednesday, April 17 at the Clive Baptist Church, the group – which features 17 Ugandan children – will be performing their new show, “Just as I am,” which promises to please and engage both young and old alike.
“It’s hymns like you’ve never heard them before,” said Choir Manager Tina Sipp. “They’re all put to African rhythms and they’ve been rearranged with the children in mind. It’s familiar songs to most people, but they have this African twist.
“It’s bright, it’s energetic – it’s very inspiring.”
The performance comes complete with traditional dances from Uganda, synchronized drumming, a dance performed with tin cans, and costumes inspired by their own culture – if not by their own bright personalities.
Oddly enough, that contrasts with how each of the children came to be part of the choir.
The African Children’s Choir was started in 1984 as part of an international Christian organization known as Music for Life, which aims to break the poverty cycle by providing children with education, experience and skills they need to rise above their situation.
With the help of nationals located in each of the four countries they are present in – Uganda, where this particular choir’s members are from, Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa – they identify the “neediest of the needy” children between the ages of 7 and 10 and provide them with the opportunity to perform.
In exchange, the children will have their education paid for through to the level of education where they can become employable – whether that’s college, technical school, vocational training or otherwise – and provide for themselves.
“For these children, getting an education is the jackpot, but secondly, they just get vision for their lives,” she said, referring to their traveling and the different experiences they’ll have seeing how things are done in other countries.
“When you come outside of what’s typical, you have a chance to imagine and dream and catch a vision for what you could become – the opportunities, the options. You can think bigger because of that exposure.”
To date, Music for Life, including the African Children’s Choir, has educated over 52,000 children, and affected more than 100,000 people through its 35 educational programs across the four different countries.
It’s this, Sipp says, that makes the performance so much more than a concert.
“It’s about the spirit of the children. There’s something about their hope and their joy and their resiliency – it’s not spoken, but people see it, they feel it, they sense it,” she said. “We try not to camp on the hardships they come from or their vulnerability because of their impoverishment, but that is their story. Yet people see, in spite of that, they’re enjoying life every day.
“I believe a chord in struck at the soul level and people just leave with a different perspective –and having seen a great concert as well.”
The proof of their charm is in the number of high-profile audiences they’ve entertained, from Queen Elizabeth II for her diamond jubilee, to dignitaries and heads of state around the world. Paul McCartney, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey and Annie Lennox are among the names of musicians they’ve worked with.
Now, they’ll bring that same level of performance to those in the area.
The Clive Baptist Church is located at 4716 50 St. in Clive. Admission to the event is free, but a free will donations will be accepted to support the African Children’s Choir programs, including education, care, relief and development programming.
The choir will also perform in New Sarepta, Alta. and Leduc, Alta. on April 14, as well as in Erskine, Alta. at 10:30 a.m. on April 19.
For more information, visit www.africanchildrenschoir.com.