The African Children’s Choir Coming to Omaha


August 8th, 2017

Photo Courtesy of Sarah Wanyana

This Sunday, August 13, Omaha will be visited by the African Children’s Choir, a vibrant group of performers with a humanitarian mission. The choir was founded over 30 years ago by Ray Barnett of Vancouver, B.C. Canada after a humanitarian trip to Uganda during the Idi Amin’s bloody regime.

“And he just saw the war and destruction across Uganda, and it was one boy and one trip that allowed him to come up with the idea of the African Children’s Choir,” said Keira Carnie, Tour Leader for the choir. “He took this small boy on a taxi ride and this boy just lost both his parents, and he said he was just getting two conflicting images. He was seeing this war and destruction on the street, yet this boy was singing praise and worship songs throughout the whole journey, and he thought why is the media not seeing and why was the world not seeing this side of Africa—the hope and the dignity of these people, especially the children? Instead we just see the poverty and the war and the destruction.”

Now, the choir’s main goal is education.

Since its founding, the Choir has spread throughout the continent. Concerts are free, but donations go the construction of primary and secondary schools where opportunity is scarce. The choir, through its parent organization, Music for Life, has educated over 52,000 children and has given them the chance to tour the world.

“Their families get excited,” Carnie said. “I got to go over to Uganda and see their families and see their homes, and they are incredibly grateful. I mean, I know over here, for example, college is expensive so imagine they have to pay for education over in Africa,  so imagine being told that your whole child’s education is now paid for and they’re forever grateful for that as well as the mentorship and discipleship that is given to the children. Healthcare is looked after, things like that. The parents were just incredibly grateful. Obviously, coming to America was a big bonus as well and, a once in a lifetime experience.”

The African Children’s Choir has performed at some of top venues: The Queen of England’s diamond jubilee, American Idol, and on stages for several US Presidents. They’ve performed with artists like Paul McCartney, Mariah Carey, Annie Lennox and Queen.

Carnie talked about what audiences can expect.

“So they’ll hear and see lots of different things. I think the thing that struck me is all audiences seem to come out with a smile on their face, even tired by what the kids perform because the energy that they have. It’s a real mix of a program. We’ve got traditional African songs, English songs as well, old gospel favorites, such as ‘He’s Got the Whole World in his Hands,’ as well as modern worship songs. Seventeen of our children play the drums—and I have to say that’s a real favorite of mine—with their drum ensemble. And we’ve got traditional African dance as well from one of their tribes. You also get to meet the children and hear a little bit about a story, so it’s a mixture it’s been singing and dancing and then playing and their instruments as well.”

The African Children’s Choir will perform next Sunday August 13 at 9:00 and 11:00am at Eagle’s Nest Worship Center. The concert is free, but donations are accepted.




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