The African Children’s Choir came to Buffalo, New York this week for a series of concerts at host churches. This was my second time in a handful of years seeing them, and, as usual, they did not disappoint. If you could take the smiles and energy these 7 to 10-year-old kids have and infuse every well-to-do American with that kind of ecstatic joy, imagine how much more lively Sunday morning services would be!
The choir got its start back in the mid-1980s, and here’s how it works: kids in Africa have all-too-often lost one or both parents through the devastation of war, famine and disease. The lucky ones join the choir, and get to see the world, helping raise money so they and others can have a better life back home. Along the way, they learn valuable life skills, broaden their scope and perspective on the world, and dream big dreams, with each child announcing to audiences what they want to be when they grow up! At my concert, one little girl said she wants to be a midwife– I heard the crowd talk about that one, since you don’t hear little American girls ever say that. Other kids wanted to be things like a dentist, pilot, president, basketball player, and teacher.
The children in the choir have beautiful harmonies, and several of them also play drums, giving the concert a nice variety of sounds. They all dance, and they dance like a cross between a Vegas show and an African tribal village ceremony. They’re well-choreographed, and for an entire hour or so, they all have wide grins on their faces non-stop, which encourages the audience to smile back, and feel good.
With some songs in a foreign language, I didn’t always have a clue what they were singing about, but their adult chaperones stood up before the crowd and offered perspective on the stories behind the songs and such. The kids also sang classic songs everybody “kind of knows” like “He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands” and one of my personal faves, “This Little Light of Mine.”
At the end of each performance, I’m told, they almost always get a standing ovation, as they did at Kenmore United Methodist Church near Buffalo, where I enjoyed their lively presentation.
Right now there are two African Children’s Choirs on tour in the U.S., with one covering the Western States, and the other covering the Eastern ones. The kids typically spend about a week in a region, staying at church members’ homes, accompanied by chaperones and volunteers. They’re insufferably cute, and you will want to adopt them all, but they’ll say at the end of their concerts, “You may want to adopt us, but you can’t take us home with you. You can, however, buy a CD, DVD, poster, etc. at the back table as a way to ‘take us home’.” Clever! I bought a poster.
People can also sponsor African children through the choir’s concerts. Did you know there are 12 million AIDS orphans across sub-Saharan Africa? The kids sing on behalf of them.