A favorite inspirational quote
Our motto is “Helping Africa’s most vulnerable children today, so they can help Africa tomorrow”, and it is this that gives us profound purpose every day.
Choir Name: African Children’s Choir
Location: Training in Uganda and touring in the UK and North America.
Style: African/Spiritual/ Gospel/ Traditional
Number of singers: about 20
Find us online here!
A piece of repertoire you never regretted choosing…
“This Little Light of Mine” is a signature song for the children which has been their closing song for many years.
What are new members surprised by?
The children are quite intrigued and curious about things in the west such as washing machines and dishwashers and they often comment about the cars, roads, showers, beds, and tall buildings. They also acclimate to our food very quickly enjoying things like pizza, hamburgers, corn dogs and french fries.
How are they selected for the choir?
Children are selected on the basis of need through the recommendation of pastors or other community leaders in the areas where the choir works. After they are selected, the children begin training and attending school at our Choir Training Academy in Uganda before going on tour in the west. Later, they return to their regional African Children’s Choir Primary School, advance to secondary school and eventually post-secondary education, all of which is funded by the organization.
What does a typical day of training look like?
After completing their morning chores, the children share breakfast together, have a time for devotions with their host families, and then proceed to school and choir rehearsal. This is the first time the children will have had consistent education which continues during the course of tour as well.
What are choir concerts like?
The program is very entertaining and engaging because the children are very talented. There is a mixture of familiar hymns put to African rhythms, African drumming, a traditional dance and colorful ethnic costumes. However, I believe what most people remember is the spirit of the children.
Tell us more about touring:
After training, the children go on tour in the UK and North America. Once there, they travel by bus to several communities each month to perform at various churches. The churches hosting the concerts provide host families who generously take care of our food and lodging as well as provide many experiences for the children. The children get to do things like horseback riding, swimming, explore zoos and aquariums and go to amusement parks. The experience of tour casts visions for the children, immerses them in English which is very beneficial to their schooling when they return home, builds their confidence, and improves their ability to communicate effectively.
Biggest challenges along the way?
One of our unique challenges is doing everything we can to effectively raise Africa’s next generation of leaders. We want the children to grow up in such a way that when they return to their communities in Africa, they will be initiators of positive change. We seek to prepare the children’s hearts and souls and instill in them a mindset of giving back.
An emotional moment with the kids?
There’s a dentist from Spokane Washington who donates his services whenever a choir is in town. On a recent visit, one girl in particular was very scared. Many of the staff tried to comfort her to no avail, and finally she pleaded “Is auntie Jessica there?!” (Our choir chaperones are all known as ‘Aunties’ or ‘Uncles’). Her plea serves to reflect the strong familial bonds the children form with their “Aunties” and “Uncles” who oversee their physical, emotional, and spiritual well being.
A significant moment
One of the young girls from a choir I helped chaperone in 2004 was awarded a full ride scholarship to an American university. I had the joy and privilege of meeting her at the airport when she arrived and was able to attend orientation with her and help her settle in to her new school. Who would have known that a seven year old Rwandan orphan would grow up to study Neuroscience in hopes of affecting change in the educational system of her country?
How did the African Children’s Choir start?
The African Children’s Choir is a nonprofit humanitarian and relief organization sponsored by their parent organization,Music for Life Institute which started in 1984 by Ray Barnett,lovingly referred to as “Daddy Ray” by those in the organization. Ray had been working with the persecuted church around the world and this work originally took him to Uganda during the brutal regime of Idi Amin. During one of his trips to Uganda, Ray gave a ride to a young boy who had lost both of his parents in the civil war. The boy sang praise songs during the entire journey and Ray was gripped by the resiliency and joy the young boy exhibited despite his circumstances. Ray was moved and inspired by that experience and knew that if people in the west could see the beauty, dignity and potential of children like this, they would want to help. This led to bringing out the first African Children’s Choir to tour the west in 1984. Since then, the African Children’s Choir has helped educate over 52,000 children across seven African countries. They are so much more than a choir- these children are ambassadors. They are helping raise money for thousands of children back home so they can receive an education.
Tina Sipp, Choir Manager for the African Children’s Choir is from Spokane, WA. She has worked for the organization for 15 years having begun as a chaperone with a choir that toured in 2003-2004. She counts it a tremendous privilege and blessing to disciple Africa’s next generation of leaders. “I feel like a fist pumping crazed fan wildly cheering on the sideline for these children!”