Africa at your doorstep


By Rick Morwick

For more than 30 years, the African Children’s Choir has captivated audiences worldwide with its vibrant mix of culturally themed songs, dance, drum ensembles and costumes.

Now, local audiences can enjoy the sights and sounds of the world-renowned choir when it performs a pair of shows in Carmel and Zionsville. It will appear at 7 p.m. Aug. 4 at VENTURE Christian Church, 14501 Hazel Dell Pkwy., Carmel, and at 7 p.m. Aug. 9 at Zionsville United Methodist Church, 9644 Whitestown Rd., Zionsville.

Founded in 1984 to help impoverished children in war-torn Uganda, the choir, comprised of 16 Ugandan kids ages 8 to 11, will sing an array of ethnic worship music and perform traditional African dances adorned in bright costumes, accompanied by a drum ensemble.

Admission is free but donations are accepted.

“It’s kind of like bringing Africa to your doorstep,” African Children’s Choir Manager Tina Sipp said. “This program is called, ‘Just as I Am.’ We’ve always wanted to do a hymns program. These are familiar hymns, like ‘Amazing Grace,’ put to African rhythms. We have them specially arranged by a Ugandan artist, so it’s a collision of the old, classic hymns with new, modern African rhythms. The entertainment is delightful.

“It’s so much more than a concert. It’s really a beautiful program.”

In the midst of a nine-month tour of the U.S., the choir is part of Music for Life, an international Christian organization that provides children throughout Africa with education, discipleship and leadership skills. Children are selected based on need. Proceeds from the tour help fund their education.

“Probably most of these children are coming from single-parent homes and the parents have probably not received a formal education because they came out of poverty,” Sipp said. “It’s pretty difficult to break that cycle without an education, so that’s kind of our goal, helping Africa’s most vulnerable children so they can help Africa tomorrow.

“You meet these kids for five or 10 minutes, and you realize they’re gifted and talented and they just have no opportunity.”

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