African Children's Choir
[African Children’s Choir]

It’s difficult to comprehend the struggle a child suffering in a third-world country goes through every day and how your small contribution to a nonprofit makes a difference. The African Children’s Choir, performing this month in the East Valley, will give you that personal experience with not only the cause but the kids you’re supporting.

What you’ll see and hear

Although they do sing traditional gospel and soul songs in Ugandan and Swahili, the African Children’s Choir has English-translated songs as well. Each song is accompanied by a dance, and the kids wear colorful costumes that showcase their background and country. Over the years, the choir has been seen by or has performed with Mariah Carey, Keith Urban, Paul McCartney and Queen Elizabeth.

The back story

Music for Life, the parent program of the African Children’s Choir, was established by humanitarian Ray Barnett. After listening to the voice of a young Ugandan boy whose village had been decimated, Barnett was inspired to start an organization that would give orphaned children a place to live, grow and learn. One of its programs is the African Children’s Choir, which travels across the United States and the world to perform and educate audiences on African cultures as well as their cause.

The kids

Each of the children in the choir, ranging from 7 to 10 years of age, comes from a family in Uganda, Ghana, Nigeria or Kenya that has lost one or both parents to the devastation of war, famine or disease. The kids are able to share their stories, receive musical training, and pick up essential life skills they wouldn’t have received otherwise, according choir chaperone Nate Longstaff.

How it works

Some children only tour with the group for one session, then bring back their new skills to their country, where some are eventually able to pursue careers thanks to sponsors they meet along the tour. Others end up staying with the African Children’s Choir long enough to transition into ChangeMakers, or choir representatives.

If you go

The African Children’s Choir performs twice in the East Valley:

>> 7 p.m. Friday, March 21, at Tri-City Baptist Church, 2211 W. Germann Road, Chandler. $15. For tickets, call (480) 699-9846 or visit

For more information and other Arizona performances, call (360) 733-2149 or visit

• Cissy, a junior at Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, is an intern for GetOut. Contact her at (480) 898-6514 or

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