African Children’s Choir in a photo posted to the organization’s website.

MUSIC

At Surrey churches, African Children’s Choir to perform ‘Just As I Am’ concerts this spring

History of the organization dates back to Uganda’s civil war of 1984

A pair of Surrey churches will host concerts by the acclaimed African Children’s Choir on its “Just As I Am” tour of North America this spring.

A 7 p.m. performance on Friday, May 17 will take place at Horizon Church (15100 66A Ave., in Newton), followed by two morning concerts at Hillside Christian (5950 179th St., Cloverdale) on Sunday, May 26, at 9 and 11:15 a.m. Admission is by donation, and the concerts are first come, first seated.

In promo material, the African Children’s Choir is described as “a nonprofit humanitarian and relief organization dedicated to helping Africa’s most vulnerable children today so they can help Africa tomorrow.”

The choir has performed for many presidents and heads of state over the past three decades.

“The African Children’s Choir melts the hearts of audiences with their charming smiles, beautiful voices and lively African songs and dances,” a biography states. “The program features well-loved children’s songs, traditional spirituals and gospel favorites. Performances support African Children’s Choir programs, such as education, care, relief and development.”

The “Shows” page at africanchildrenschoir.com shows Choir 49 touring to Surrey and other Canadian cities from March 27 to June 9, and a Choir 50 touring exclusively in the U.S. from May 31 to Aug. 28.

The history of African Children’s Choir dates back to 1984 when, in the midst of Uganda’s bloody civil war, human rights activist Ray Barnett “was called on to help the many thousands of orphaned and starving children, abandoned and helpless to feed and protect themselves,” according to a post on the choir’s website.

“Inspired by the singing of one small boy, we formed the first African Children’s Choir to show the world that Africa’s most vulnerable children have beauty, dignity and unlimited ability,” the website says.

A few years ago directors of the choir brainstormed about producing a new album and touring show for the choir, and the result fused traditional Western Hymns with the musical style of Uganda.

“We landed on this idea of doing an album of hymns, but with a distinctly African feeling,” says executive producer Julia Barnett-Tracy. “You’d be amazed at what can happen when you merge two worlds that don’t normally go together.”



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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