Africa's Heartbeat is part of the Music for Life charitable foundation. It is a choir comprising 26 underprivileged, often orphaned, children aged between 7 and 11 who have been rescued from poverty in sub-Saharan African countries. Every year a new group of the choir performs on the international circuit before the children return to a full time education in Africa. Through performing, they act as ambassadors for their countries, raising awareness and much-needed money so that things might improve for others like them in the world's poorest continent.
28th African Children's choir singing
The current group is the 28th choir. Their show is a colourful assault of non-stop singing and dancing. They have vibrant youthful energy and raw talent: they know why they are there and they perform their little hearts out. The singing is done in English, Swahili or other African languages. The repertoire ranges from songs such as the infectious Bababambulele to the tender Reach Out/ Lean on Me. Much of the singing is accompanied by lively dance routines and yet the children are never too out of breath to hit the right notes. Sometimes one of their four chaperones will lead or perform; they are all former choir members and as, for example, trained sound engineers or teachers, they demonstrate the success of the programme.
Traditional stories are sung, danced and acted out to rhythms energetically beaten out on big drums by diminutive members of the troop. Even the tiniest of the children can dance but some are outstanding. The singing has occasional imperfections but is nonetheless pure and heartfelt. The audience clapped along spontaneously and more than a few could be seen surreptitiously wiping the corners of their eyes when the choir performed Nkosi Sikeleli Afrika.
There was the inevitable opportunity to purchase recordings of the group and some African artefacts, all in support of the choir. It is well worth reading the brochure before the performance because it becomes all the more remarkable when the background of the children is understood.
Don't come to see Africa's heartbeat expecting a highly polished performance. Instead, come prepared to be delighted and thoroughly entertained by the innocence, spontaneity and exuberance of such talented young performers. You will not leave disappointed.
Run 6-9; 13-15; 20-22; 24 August 2007 at 4.30pm
28th African Chidren's Choir