Ugandan choir brings African sounds to Manitou Beach, Tisdale

MANITOU BEACH, TISDALE — An African choir will be travelling to the east central region to perform.

 “We have been travelling these years to bring the message of hope and joy to really have these children be ambassadors to the other thousand children back home that we educate every year,” said Tina Sipp, choir manager for the African Children’s Choir. “It’s just to give a voice to the children, to let people see there is another side to Africa then maybe just as challenges that we typically see in media – that by maybe bringing these children to the west they represent their country, other vulnerable children just like themselves and the rich culture they come from.”

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The African Children’s Choir has sung in concerts around the world, including in front of Queen Elizabeth II for her diamond jubilee. They’ve also sung alongside Paul McCartney, Annie Lennox, Keith Urban, Mariah Carey and Michael W. Smith.

“Those kind of opportunities are fantastic for us because we’re trying to get a message out,” Sipp said. “It’s pretty funny, like Paul McCartney to them is just Uncle Paul … We were on American Idol some years back and Simon Cowell is just Uncle Simon to them and Uncle Josh Groban, you know?

“If you interact with them they just respond to you, doesn’t matter who you are or what your status is.”

The singers range from seven to 10 years old. When they’re not touring, many of the children in the choir are enrolled at the African Children’s Choir Primary School in Entebbe, Uganda.

“We have an African staff. We have a training centre in Uganda, which is on the same property as our primary school where the children go back to,” Sipp said. “We do one short tour, then they go back and their education is covered all the way through college.”

The African Children’s Choir is a subsidiary of Music for Life, a Christian organization.

“They train for six months before they come out,” Sipp said. “When they come to us they don’t know any English. That’s another benefit,  because the education system in East Africa where we work, primarily, all the national testing is in English. So if you don’t know English you’re not going to ever succeed academically.”

The African Children’s Choir will perform at 7 pm on Sunday, April 7 at the Danceland Ballroom in Manitou Beach. There will also be a show at 7 pm on Wednesday, April 10 at the Tisdale Alliance Church.

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