As I believe it’s important to give back into the community, two or three times a year I shoot pro bono for a charity. A couple of months ago I was asked to donate my time to document this years African Childrens Choir 5th Annual NYC ChangeMakers Gala, which was honoring Connie Britton, the star of the hit TV show Nashville. A couple of weeks ago I showed up at the appointed time for the Gala at City Winery in Soho and was delighted by the evening’s entertainment, which included appearances from the African Childrens Choir, Sheryl Crow, Big Kenny from Big & Rich, Chad Smith, drummer with Red Hot Chili Peppers, Marty Thomas & His Divas, actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley from TV Show Nashville and Broadway singer Saycon Sengbloh with the whole shindig hosted by actress Julia Barnett Tracy. The pictures in this post were taken that night.
The African Childrens Choir was started in 1984 by human rights activist Ray Barnett in the midst of Uganda’s civil war. Thousands of orphaned and starving children had been abandoned and were unable to feed or protect themselves. Barnett was inspired by the singing of a small boy to form the first African Childrens Choir from the large number of orphaned and vulnerable children in the Kampala and Luwero areas of Uganda. After the Choir was trained to perform and readied for living in new and different cultures, the children travelled from Uganda to tour amongst the North American Church communities.
Audiences were so impressed with their vibrancy and musical talent that the choir quickly raised the profile of the community of abandoned children in Africa from which they’d been chosen. The money they raised through donations provided for their own support and education as well as funding the building of an orphanage in Kampala from which a second African Children’s Choir was selected.
In those early years the choir would tour in the USA, Canada and the UK. The proceeds of their tours, and the sponsorship support they would attract, funded the establishment of literacy schools to enable the most disenfranchised children get a proper education. At this time over a thousand vulnerable children have been through the Choir program and the funds they have generated have provided the opportunity of education and hope for many thousands like them in some of the most desperate and needy areas of Africa. You can support this excellent organization by making a donation at their website.