Center for the Arts Presents African Children’s Choir ‘Journey of Hope’

Posted: April 8, 2010 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: April 7, 2010 at 4:32 pm

The African Children's Choir

Born in war-torn Uganda, the African Children’s Choir was founded by human rights activist Ray Barnett, who wished to show the world that the choir’s members, like the millions of needy and orphaned children in Africa, have beauty, dignity and unlimited potential.

Titled “Journey of Hope,” this joyful performance blends song and dance from the entire continent of Africa and features more than 10 languages, unique cultural dancing and uplifting gospel music. The African Children’s Choir will perform at Mason’s Center for the Arts Concert Hall on Sunday, April 11, at 4 p.m.

The first African Children’s Choir was composed of children who were born in Uganda during the final years of Idi Amin’s regime.

In 1984, Uganda was embroiled in a civil war that left thousands of orphans in great need. Barnett organized the choir to travel to the West to tell these children’s stories in hopes that the international community would come to their aid and help relieve the widespread suffering in Uganda.

Since that first journey, the choir has expanded its operations beyond its international touring program to serve children and families in Rwanda, Ghana, Nigeria, the Sudan, Kenya, Somalia and South Africa.

The proceeds from touring provide thousands with the opportunity to overcome their circumstances, as well as the resources they need to make a positive impact on society. The choir’s relief, education and music programs currently support programs and efforts for almost 8,000 underprivileged children, ranging from schools for the “Lost Boys” of Sudan; teachers’ colleges; literacy schools in the inner city; support centers for orphans suffering from AIDS, starvation and disease in South Africa; and university sponsorship programs for former choir members.

As founder and director of the African Children’s Choir, Barnett has developed the choir into an internationally acclaimed performance group, while raising funds to help thousands of destitute children receive an education and hope.

Under Barnett’s leadership, the choir has gained widespread attention and international acclaim, performing on “Good Morning America,” “The Tonight Show” and “American Idol”; alongside Mariah Carey and Sir Paul McCartney at Live 8 in London; and at Nelson Mandela’s AIDS awareness concert in South Africa.

The choir has performed at the British House of Commons and The Pentagon, as well as some of the world’s most prestigious halls, including The London Palladium, The International Club of Berlin and the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels.

An ordained Irish minister, Barnett has been the subject of two television documentaries and has received numerous awards and honors for his commitment to human rights.

These include the prestigious Cross of Nails, awarded by the Coventry Cathedral in England to recognize his widespread efforts to promote peace throughout the world, and the Heart of Gold Award bestowed by the BBC.

“We recognized early on that education is the key to long-term change and advancement in Africa,” Barnett said. “It’s the children who will become the leaders of tomorrow and can make the difference. By helping one child at a time, we can move mountains.”

A discussion, free to ticket holders, will begin 45 minutes prior to the performance on the Center’s Grand Tier III. Pre-performance discussions are sponsored by the Friends of the Center for the Arts.

Tickets are $42, $34 and $21; tickets are half price for youth through grade 12 when the child is accompanied by an adult. Charge by phone at 888-945-2468 or visit

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