African Children's Choir to perform in Tuscaloosa

A group of musicians who have performed with Paul McCartney, before the Queen of England and President Barack Obama are coming to Tuscaloosa.

They're the African Children's Choir, comprised of 18 boys and girls from Uganda, ages 7 to 11. The choir will perform a variety of Christmas songs, said tour leader Heidi Moen.

"We are looking forward to sharing our message with the people of Tuscaloosa; a message of hope, joy and love,” Moen said. “The children have been learning new Christmas songs and are so excited to perform them.”

The African Children’s Choir began in 1977 when Ray Barnett, the founder, heard a small boy from war-torn Uganda sing. Uganda was under the harsh rule of Idi Amin, which left many children orphaned, Choir Manager Tina Sipp said. Sipp said Barnett was inspired when he heard the young boy sing. He had seen the beauty in the darkness, and he wanted others to see it, too.

“Ray was certain the west would want to help such a child if they only knew the plight of this boy and many others like him,” Sipp said.

Barnett’s idea was that a vision of hope could accomplish more than depressing statistics. The choir’s goal is to raise awareness about orphans in Africa, while providing the children with education, Sipp said.

“The goal of the choir is to help Africa’s most vulnerable children today so they can help Africa tomorrow,” Sipp said.

What started as a small idea of hope transformed into a successful endeavor. The choir has traveled all over the world and performed for various dignitaries, such as Queen Elizabeth II, the President of Ireland Mary McAleese and other government officials. These are Moen’s favorite performances.

“Even though they are under so much stress, when they are around the kids and hear them perform, you see such a different side of who they are,” Moen said. “You see joy reflected from the children into their lives.”

Noble, a member of the African Children’s Choir, said her favorite performance was in New York City when they got to perform with other artists. Noble has been with the choir for 10 months.

“I enjoy traveling on the bus and I know that when I go back home I will get an education,” Noble said.

The African Children’s Choir benefits those involved just as much as it benefits their audience. Its aim is to inspire audiences and equip its members, but it also benefits those who work with the choir.

“The best part about being involved with the African Children's Choir is knowing that I'm truly making a difference in these children and thousands of children's lives,” Moen said. “This organization is doing incredible work.”

The African Children’s Choir has been on tour in America for three months. In addition to their Tuscaloosa performance, they will perform at Five Points Baptist Church in Northport on Dec. 6 at 8:30 a.m. and 10:45 a.m.

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