Broadcast journalist Tony Were came from humble beginnings.
All that changed when in 1991 he found his voice and passion for song by joining the African Children’s Choir. Now he covers stories that bring the plight of the countries of Africa to a wide, international audience. With the support of sponsor Music for Life, he has been able to travel the world for many years, raising awareness and funds to educate other children from similar backgrounds.
Were is official chaperone for the African Children’s Choir (ACC) 35th tour. They will perform in Prince George on July 30.
“I was in the choir 20 years ago when I was eight years old,” Were told the Free Press on Monday. “My mother couldn’t raise me because she was living in a slum and she was handicapped she was deaf and did not have much education to make it in the big world. One day she heard from a missionary about the African Children’s Choir and took me to the centre where I began my training.”
His remarkable story is like many others shared by the 850 members of the choir who tour in small groups but make a huge impact on their international audience.
“Most of our choirs are made up of 20 to 26 members, children from small villages who have been desperately poor.”
Were schedules buses, air flights, travel and billet arrangements for the choir members while they are touring. There is no doubt in his mind that singing with the choir gives children a boost of self-confidence and self-worth. Their voices have been heard by world leaders
“They are performing three or four concerts a week in front of a huge audience and they live with host families so they learn to be very sociable. They can forget about where they came from and just enjoy the experience. Seeing them perform lets people in other countries know there is hope in Africa not just devastation. It tells them you can make a difference. This is how to change Africa, one child at a time.”
The African Childrens’ Choir has appeared in thousands of concerts around the world including the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. They have been featured on popular television shows like Ellen, American Idol and Good Morning America.
And they have performed alongside a number of well-known artists and musicians including Mariah Carey and Josh Groban. The program features well-loved children’s songs, traditional spirituals and contemporary tunes. The children, many of them from the poorest countries of the world, have raised millions of dollars to educate and rebuild countries devastated by famine, war and AIDS.
The African Childrens’ Choir will perform at a free concert at the First Baptist Church (sponsored by the Timbers Community Church) on Friday, July 30 starting at 7 p.m.