Voices of hope raised in song

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Dennis Hines | September 3, 2014

LAKE GENEVA -- A group of young singers from Africa will travel to the area soon to share their musical talents and their stories.

The African Children's Choir, Choir 42, will perform at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 5, at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 700 N. Bloomfield Road, Lake Geneva; and at 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 7, at Faith Community Church, 2931 Lucerne Drive, Janesville.

The group performs gospel, contemporary Christian and native African music. Tina Sipp, chaperone for the African Children's Choir, said the children put on an entertaining performance that audience members should enjoy.

“The audience is going to enjoy the bright colors of the children's costumes,” Sipp said. “The children have a lot of energy and joy. (The audience) will get a taste of another culture.”

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The choir usually presents four concerts a week, two on Sunday, one on Wednesday and one on Friday. Choir 42 will be performing throughout the Midwest and South until next April before embarking on an Australian tour. The choir is made up of children between the ages of 7 and 10 from seven African countries: Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Sudan, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.

Free-will offerings collected from concert attendees are used for educational programs and relief and development programs in the children's home countries. Carrie Lyman, chaperone, said being involved with the program gives the children an opportunity to make a difference in their communities.

“The program is education based,” Lyman said. “We want to provide education to as many children as possible. We want to make sure the children's needs are met and they can go back and contribute to their community in a positive way.”

The children are recommended for the program by their school administrators. They are then sent to a camp where they audition. Most of the children who are involved with the program have lost a parent or come from poor families.

“(The children) don't know they are auditioning. They attend the camp for a week and then they go home,” Lyman said. “The staff then identifies which children would be a good fit for the program. Then we talk to the children's guardians about receiving additional training. The children will receive an education that they may never have received, and it helps them break out of poverty.”

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