For a thoroughly enjoyable concert from a world-renowned, gifted group of youngsters, check out the African Children’s Choir performance at Evangelical Church of Erskine on April 19th.
The concert, which falls on Good Friday, begins at 10:30 a.m.
“It’s a brand new program that we launched last September called Just As I Am. It’s familiar arrangements of hymns with an African twist,” explained Tina Sipp, the choir’s director.
“It’s hymns like you have never heard them before because they’ve been put to African rhythms and arranged by an incredible artist in Uganda.
“The background tracks are also just super fun – and of course there is the ethnic worship music that we are known for doing along with traditional dances from Uganda,” she added.
“There will also be about 11 of the children playing a synchronized drum routine which is just incredible,” she said. “It’s always my favourite part of the concert – who doesn’t like African drumming, right? It’s just a very engaging program.”
All the costumes are also designed by a former member of the Choir, which was first launched back in 1984.
“She does our music, our choreography and our costume design as well.”
As Sipp pointed out, the Choir is about more than music.
“Since 1984, we’ve helped educate over 52,000 children. And we have about 1,200 former choir members,” she said, adding that Choir members range in age from seven to 10.
Music for Life (the parent organization for the African Children’s Choir) works in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa.
Besides their emphasis on providing education, Music for Life has also impacted the lives of more than 100,000 people through its relief and development programs during its history, too.
“MFL’s purpose is to help create new leadership for tomorrow’s Africa, by focusing on education.”
Concerts are also free and open to all.
A free-will offering is taken at the performance to support African Children’s Choir programs.
Meanwhile, the African Children’s Choir has had the privilege to perform before presidents, heads of state and most recently the Queen of England, Queen Elizabeth II, for her diamond jubilee.
The Choir has also had the honor of singing alongside artists such as Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey, Michael W. Smith, and other inspirational performers.
As Sipp said, the tour also allows the children to not only share their gift of song but also a wonderful chance to see far-off places they may not have otherwise had the chance to visit.
Once back at home, the youngsters continue with their studies, ultimately moving onto post-secondary opportunities and from there, an array of rewarding careers.
“Their education is paid for all the way through the post-secondary level,” she said. “So they are with us as part of our family for years to come. Our oldest ‘children’ now are in their 40s!
“The other part that people might not know about is that the 17 children you see on stage, that’s just a sample of the children that are being helped through the work of the Choir. We have 1,000 other children back in Africa just like them who are going to school as a result of the money being raised at these concerts,” she said.
As for this current tour, it was a few years ago that some of the Choir staff brainstormed about producing a new album.
The result was, as described, a merging of two worlds, infusing traditional western hymns with the vibrant musical style of Uganda.
For Sipp, who has been involved with the Choir for 16 years now, the mission continues to be an amazingly fulfilling journey.
“I love that I get up every morning and can be a part of something that makes a profound difference in somebody’s life,” she said.
“This is not a one degree change in the trajectory of these children’s lives. This is a 180-degree change from where these children were going to where they now can go.
“We are a faith-based organization, and I’m a woman of faith so I believe I was created to glorify God and to love people. I get to love these children through this process, and I get to be a part of their potential (in life).”
For more information, check out www.africanchildrenschoir.com.