■ Burks United Methodist Church, 6433
Hixson Pike, 9 and 11 a.m.
Sunday, Dec. 22, 423-842-4219.
■ New Monumental Baptist Church,
901 Woodmore Lane, 6 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 22, 423-629-6106.
■ Grace Presbyterian Church, 2107
Threadmill Road, Dalton, Ga., 6 p.m.
Sunday,Dec. 29, 706-226-6344.
The singers, musicians and dancers who are members of the Young Africans group that will perform at three Chattanooga churches over the next 10 days are the future pastors, engineers, home builders, nurses and teachers in their native African countries.
“They can be change makers with the help of education,” says Robbie Luninze, a Ugandan who is serving as one of the group’s chaperones during their nine-month tour. “They can be the elites” of their communities. In turn, they “can transform many people to create a brighter Africa.”
The Young Africans, who were members of the renowned African Children’s Choir when they were younger and now are 18 to 21 years old, will present concerts at Burks United Methodist Church on Sunday morning, Dec. 22, New Monumental Baptist Church on Sunday evening, Dec. 22, and at Grace Presbyterian Church in Dalton, Ga., on Sunday evening, Dec. 29. In addition to the full concerts, the group will perform a single song during the Christmas Eve service at 5 p.m. at Grace Presbyterian.
Their concerts will include a stomp-inspired dance and will highlight musical instruments they play, such as the African guitar, African pipes and African xylophone, Luninze says.
“All our songs are very, very unique and very, very energetic,” he says.
Luninze says the group — most members are from Kenya and Uganda — also will perform some African Christmas songs and several more familiar to U.S. audiences such as “Silent Night” and “Joy to the World.”
“Silent Night,” he says, is “amazing to see,” and “Joy to the World” is a “huge rhythm, dancing number.”
While members are selected for the African Children’s Choir at ages 8-10 based on their extreme poverty, the Young Africans are an auditioned group of former African Children’s Choir members.
“We tested them musically after high school,” Luninze says. “We picked out the very best. All of them are really good. We are extremely pleased.”
African Children’s Choir members are trained for six months to sing and dance and then tour for 18 months before returning to school. The Young Africans, who also receive training, are preparing for an eventual college education.
That will not happen without the help of the people who see them perform, says Luninze.
“The only way is with the help of people,” he says. “They will be able to sponsor them, help them achieve, help them receive their education, their degrees. There is hope and love through music and dance.”
There is no cost to attend the concerts, but a freewill offering will be taken at each church to support African Children’s Choir education, care and relief, as well as development programs.
Contact staff writer Clint Cooper at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6497. Subscribe to his posts online at Facebook.com/ClintCooperCTFP.
Clint Cooper is the faith editor and a staff writer for the Times Free Press Life section. He also has been an assistant sports editor and Metro staff writer for the newspaper. Prior to the merger between the Chattanooga Free Press and Chattanooga Times in 1999, he was sports news editor for the Chattanooga Free Press, where he was in charge of the day-to-day content of the section and the section’s design. Before becoming sports ...