The African Children's Choir has sung for Queen Elizabeth II and been joined in song by Paul McCartney, and now they are bringing their talents to Long Beach.
The African Children's Choir is made up of 18 children ages 7 to 10. They inevitably bring smiles and applause with exuberant performances of such favorites as "This Little Light of Mine" and "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands," as well as traditional African music.
Sarah Lidstone, North American choir operations manager, said audiences connect with the children.
"The trademark of the organization is children who come from great need, and when you pair that with children who are beautiful and have hope and joy it causes people to look at their own life, and they find hope and inspiration," she said.
In addition to performing at schools and churches around the world, the African Children's Choir has performed before presidents and heads of state. They have been joined in song by Annie Lennox, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey and Michael W. Smith.
The choir was formed in 1984 when human rights activist Ray Barnett felt a calling to help children suffering starvation and abandonment during Uganda's civil war.
Inspired by the singing of one boy, Barnett saw the choir as a way to show the world that each of the children possessed "beauty, dignity and unlimited ability."
Barnett's vision is realized in the success stories of past choir members. Robert Kalvesubula lacked food and clothing when he joined the children's choir. He received tuition to attend school and attained a master's degree in internal medicine. Nancy Wangari was one of six children of a single mother. She realized her dream of becoming a nurse and works at Kijabe Mission Hospital in Kenya.
The choir will perform at 6 p.m. Jan. 27 at First Baptist Church, 300 N. Cleveland Ave., Long Beach.
Admission to the event is free. Special donations will be collected to benefit the choir's parent organization, the non-profit Music for Life. The organization works to create new leadership for Africa through education. Working in Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa, they have educated more than 52,000 children and provided relief and development for more than 100,000 people.