The harmonious voices of the African Children’s Choir, a group composed of talented youngsters from underprivileged backgrounds, are set to resonate through the Southland in the coming days.
The choir was founded in 1984 to provide African children “quality education, utilizing the transformative power of music,” according to its website. Over the years, the choir, which is now part of an international nonprofit called Music for Life, has used its proceeds to build a children’s home in Uganda; has sponsored schools and colleges in that nation, as well as in South Africa, Sudan and elsewhere in Africa; and have performed for the likes of Nelson Mandela and the Queen Elizabeth II.
It was also nominated for a Grammy Award in 1992.
And currently, the choir is on a tour in the United States, during which the children are slated to perform at more than 50 stops across the country. The Southern California swing begins with a performance in Redlands on Sunday, Dec. 3. Other shows are scheduled for Torrance, Anaheim, Northridge and Cathedral City through Dec. 15.
“It’s been a full-circle moment for me,” tour leader Sandra Nakalanda said in a recent interview. “I know first hand what it means to get quality education and what an opportunity like this means.”
Nakalanda, now 27, joined the choir at 7 years old. The organization, coupled with the sponsorship she received during the tour, helped her obtain a quality education back home in Uganda, Nakalanda said. She went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree in international relations and diplomacy.
“Now I get to come back and tour with these younger children and to basically just give back and help them see what someone helped me see at a really young age,” Nakalanda said. “They all have potential and they all have inner gifts that God has placed within them and that with hard work and some focus, they too can make it.”
The choir’s repertoire includes popular children’s music, traditional spiritual songs and vibrant African cultural pieces. Potential additional tour dates could be added in the future, Nakalanda said.
The concerts are free to attend but donations are appreciated. All proceeds will be used to support the children’s education back home.
“The African Children’s Choir proves just how powerful music can be,” choir manager Tina Sipp said in a recent press release “These concerts provide hope and encouragement, not just to our audiences, but to the children whose lives are forever changed by their experiences with the choir.”
There are around 20 children, aged 10-12, in the current cohort, which is Choir 52. Over the years, the African Children’s Choir has helped make a difference in the lives of around 58,000 youngsters, Nakalanda said.
“These children are some of the most joyous human beings you’ll ever meet,” she said. “And it’s such a blessing really because given the circumstances that they come from, they’re able to experience so much joy and it’s seen through their singing and their dancing.”
Redlands: 7 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, at Redlands First United Methodist Church, 1 E. Olive Ave.
Torrance: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 6, at South Bay Christian School, 4400 Del Amo Blvd.
Anaheim: 9:09 and 11:11 a.m. Dec. 10 at City Church, 701 W. Broadway.
Northridge: 7 p.m. Dec. 13 at First Presbyterian Church of Granada Hills, 10400 Zelzah Ave.
Cathedral City: 7 p.m. Dec. 15 at Northgate Community Church, 30010 Date Palm Drive.