African children's choir hopes to inspire listeners to help at Superior concert

Central Assembly of God will fill with the heavenly sounds of children ages 7-10 when the African Children's Choir comes to Superior later this month.

The African Children’s Choir
The African Children’s Choir will perform in Superior later this month.

Central Assembly of God will fill with the heavenly sounds of children ages 7-10 when the African Children’s Choir comes to Superior later this month.
The children promise to melt hearts with charming smiles, African tunes accompanied by ethnic instrumentation, along with well-loved children’s songs, hand clapping, traditional spirituals and contemporary tunes.
But it’s more than that - it’s an opportunity to change the lives of destitute children orphaned by famine and bloody civil war.
The choir got its start in 1984, when founder Ray Barnett saw the potential for helping to improve the condition of African children. By helping the children now, the goal is help Africa tomorrow.
Barnett, who first went to Africa in 1977, saw poverty, starvation, injustice, disease and violence in different areas, according to the organization’s website. He knew that people get uncomfortable and tired of seeing such depressing images, and the way to really get inspired was to see the beauty and potential that exists even amid those areas of darkness and despair.
“He wanted to give the children hope and education,” said Carrie Linan, tour leader of the group coming to Superior. “Since then we’ve had 42 choirs come out to the United States, and other parts of the world as well.”
Eighteen children from Uganda - 10 girls and eight boys - perform contemporary Christian music, gospel as well as some of their native African music, said Tina Sipp, event coordinator for the children’s choir.
In Superior, they perform at 7 p.m. Sept. 26 at Central Assembly of God, 3000 Hammond Ave.
“The children that we work with are from some of the most vulnerable areas of Africa, Linan said. “They are from extreme poverty, and they basically wouldn’t have the opportunity to receive an education because of their situation. … They’re at a poverty level that wouldn’t even allow them to go to public school.”
The choirs help support the education of 7,000 to 8,000 students in Uganda, Rwanda, Nigeria, South Africa, Sudan, Kenya, and Ghana.
Now in its 30th year, the program has helped about 52,000 children, Linan said. And students who participate in the traveling choir benefit from more than the opportunity to travel to other countries.
“By being a member of the choir, they are guaranteed to have their education paid for through the post-secondary level - not just high school, but then vocational school, trade school, university after that,” Linan said.
Linan said there are not a lot of jobs she’s had where she woke up in the morning to realize that she was going to make such a profound difference in the lives of others.
“Concert-goers will be a part of that,” Linan said. “They will actually be able to turn the course of a life 180 degrees. To me, that’s a great investment.”
While the concert is free, donations are accepted to help the mission of the African Children’s Choir programs.
“I have been to Africa now three or four times,” said Sipp, who is now in her 11th year working with the African Children’s Choir. “I have seen where the kids start their day and where they go to school and what they go back home to. I have seen with my own eyes children I have toured with now graduating from high schools.”
Sipp said the difference in their lives is profound.
“They will become their own ripple effect,” Sipp said. “They will be able to provide for younger brothers and sisters. They will be able to be very influential people within their communities.”
Sipp said she’s only booking concerts, but she sees it as more than that.
People will have the opportunity to experience something different - the joy the children provide, and the hope and potential they have, Linan said.
“I’ve seen the profound impact it has on real lives,” Sipp said. “It doesn’t take much to get me to work every morning.”


If you go

What: African Children’s Choir
When: 7 p.m. Sept. 26
Where: Central Assembly of God, 3000 Hammond Ave., Superior

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