African children’s choir set to visit St. Olaf

Published 6:01 am Monday, September 22, 2014

Children from Choir 42 sing and dance in their home country of Uganda. This choir will be in Austin on Sept. 28 at St. Olaf Lutheran Church. Photos provided

Children from Choir 42 sing and dance in their home country of Uganda. This choir will be in Austin on Sept. 28 at St. Olaf Lutheran Church. Photos provided

In 1984, the first African Children’s Choir went on tour to North America. On Sept. 28, the latest rendition of that group is set to come to Austin.

“I think people will just enjoy experiencing something a little different than what we’re used to here in America,” Tour Leader Carrie Lyman said.

Lyman, 24 and from Ohio, will be traveling with the choir as it performs in towns in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and Ohio. The choir will be at St. Olaf Lutheran Church at 8:15 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. on Sept. 28.

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This year, the choir will feature children from Uganda. After being in the choir, the children return to Africa and attend primary and secondary school with a sponsorship to university.

“We look for sponsorship along the way,” Lyman said.

The children are handpicked from different primary schools and go to an audition of sorts. After that, organizers make home visits to find students would be able to afford school on their own or not, according to Lyman. They then go to a training center before the tour to learn songs and train their voices for the choir.

As they travel, sharing their voices and singing worship songs, they also give people information about sponsoring a child in Africa. The choir is made up of nine girls and nine boys. Part of Lyman’s job is to coordinate where they will spend nights and which churches they will visit. She said the group will stay at about six different host families’ homes from each church they visit.

Lyman is excited for her first tour and to see Minnesota, since she has never visited the state. She said the children are also excited for the tour.

“They have some great voices and some great energy and great dances, so they have a lot of fun with it on stage,” she said.

Every year the tour goes someplace different.

“We choose a couple different sections of the country to go through every year,” Lyman said.

There are two tours currently: Choir 41, which is touring Alaska this year, and Lyman’s Choir 42. Lyman’s tour will spend about two weeks in Minnesota, going through Austin, Albert Lea, Pine City, Alexandria, Richfield, Hopkins, Saint Paul and Owatonna.

Lyman’s favorite song is the choir’s version of “Amazing Grace.” After she saw the choir perform when she was about 10, Lyman knew she wanted to be involved with it.

“[Those were] fun memories from when I was a kid,” Lyman said.

She has hopes that the choir will instill the same joy in people when they see it that she received when she was young.

“I hope that it brings some joy and some hope,” Lyman said.

Not only does she want to help inspire people through the choir, but she hopes by hearing them sing and hearing their stories, people will see potential for the children of Africa.

“There’s still so much potential for people all over the world,” Lyman said. “It’s just a joy to see them and see that they do have potential and that they are going to be used for something great in their lives.”

The performance is free with a free-will offering available during the music. The money raised will go toward different programs in Africa, such as literacy schools in several different countries including Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria, South Africa and Rwanda.