Local News

December 22, 2013

African singers find hope in song

Robbie Luninze was 8 years old in Uganda, a country that has experienced civil unrest for decades.

His mother had seven children, and there were days Luninze went without food.

But that changed when a choir group held auditions at his school and he was given a place in the group.

“It changes your life to be part of the African Children’s Choir,” said Luninze, who is now an adult tour chaperone with the organization.

The choir, whose parent organization is Music for Life, is designed to give children in Africa a more promising future and teach them to be leaders. The organization also has a Young African’s Choir, comprised of former members of the children’s choir, who tour thanking people for their support and giving testimonies on how the choir has helped them. They entered the choir between 7 and 10, and are now between 18 and 20.

This week, the Young African’s Choir will perform at Grace Presbyterian Church in Dalton. The group will participate in the Christmas Eve service at 5 p.m., but it is not a full concert. They will perform a full concert for the public on Sunday at 6 p.m. at the church. Admission is free. An offering will be collected.

The choirs perform traditional African music.

“We travel all the world performing, sharing our hopes and dreams for a better, brighter Africa,” Luninze said.

Many of the choir’s children are orphans from war-torn parts of Africa. They come from areas of extreme poverty and famine. Through the choir, they are educated and are given tools to help them when they return home.

“These children would not be where they are if Musical Life had not found them,” Luninze said. “During our performances, they have stories that they will tell you. ... We train them to become change makers, to change their homes and their backgrounds.”

 The children’s choir performed at Grace a few years ago.

“It’s amazing,” said Ward Satterfield, music director at Grace. “They’re very talented kids, lots of energy. They are really good. I was blown away last time.”

Hosting the group fits in with the church’s mission to help children in need around the world, he said.

“When you read about them, see the living situations these kids come out of, the wars in those countries, it’s really a worthwhile cause to give these kids a better chance at life,” Satterfield said. “If Music for Life hadn’t rescued these kids, there’s no telling where they would end up.”

The church is hosting the choir members for Christmas. The church plans to throw the group a Christmas party and has planned to give them gifts, including packages of food to take on the road.

“It’s funny how we take for granted all the stuff we have and our kids have,” Satterfield said. “The smallest little thing for these children lights them up because they have nothing.”

People attending the concert will be given an opportunity to help support the ministry, he said.

“People will get a blessing if they come hear them,” Satterfield said. “They’re so great.”

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