The Collegian
Thursday, August 06, 2020

World-renowned children's choir performs at Modlin

Vibrancy and musical talent echoed through the Camp Concert Hall on Monday, beginning with the very first note sung by members of the African Children's Choir.

"Inspired by the singing of one small boy, we formed the first African Children's Choir to show the world that Africa's most vulnerable children have beauty, dignity and unlimited ability," wrote the choir's founder, Ray Barnett, on its Web Site.

During the two-hour performance, the children bridged the cultural gap by singing and dancing to songs native to their culture.

These 30 children, all between seven and 11 years old, performed with the professionalism of seasoned singers and with enormous passion and energy. They ran down the aisles of the full audience, dancing to the beat of the tin cans and bongo drums played by children on stage.

The choir never tired and had an immense amount of fun, performing dances traditional to different cultures and tribes of Africa, ranging from warrior-like movements of Rwanda to the Congo's version of the "Funky Chicken."

The choir then played a slideshow that educated the audience about the living standards in Africa and communicated the desperate situation of the children there.

"The goal of each of these children is to return to Africa and get an education," said Alice Nabwami, one of the Choir's adult members. "These children are the next generation of story-makers in Africa."

The African Children's Choir was formed in 1984 during Uganda's civil war. Orphans and vulnerable children were selected, trained to perform, and readied for traveling and living in new and different cultures. The funds earned by the first choir through donations were used to pay for the children's education and fund the building of an orphanage in Kampala.

As the children tour in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, they collect proceeds and sponsorship support to fund a growing program of establishing literacy schools for the neediest children to get a foot up into proper education, according to the Choir's Web Site.

"To date, over seven hundred vulnerable children have been through the Choir program and the funds they have generated have provided the opportunity of education and hope for many thousands like them in some of the most desperate and needy areas of Africa," the choir's Web site reads.

The performance ended with all children in the choir introducing themselves and telling the audience what they wanted to be when they grew up. Encouraging audience participation throughout the performance, the children had people out of their seats and dancing in the aisles by the show's end.

Contact reporter Brittany Combs at brittany.combs@richmond.edu

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