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Music transforming for African choir

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The group of young men and women dance, sing and play instruments, sharing their African culture with Americans in order to help their communities back home.

Each of the members of The Young Africans grew up either losing one or both of their parents, not receiving an education or living in extreme poverty. As children, they were selected as part of the African Children’s Choir and given the opportunity to have a home, get an education and tour the world.

Now each of them are in the 20s, and they’re taking one final musical tour before heading off to colleges to study to be land planners, engineers, nurses and doctors.

They’ll be playing a free show Tuesday at Franklin Community Church and collecting donations that go toward supporting housing, health and education programs in Africa.

Expect to see these young adults playing African instruments, sharing native dances and singing songs both from their homeland and popular gospel tunes. The nine-month tour, which is spanning the Midwest and South, will be the last performances by the group’s members, who all traveled with the children’s choir about 10 years ago, tour leader Robbie Luninze said.

The Music for Life organization, which runs the programs, has been selecting African youths since 1984 for worldwide tours to raise awareness of social problems such as poverty and famine in African nations as well as collecting funds for charitable projects.

The Young Africans all grew up harsh conditions in Kenya and Uganda as children but were educated through the Music for Life program and are now college-bound, Luninze said.

“Many of the children we support have lost one of both parents, many of them come from poverty. They would otherwise not have any way to make it to where they are today. Many of them come from really hard situations, and all of them share that common background from having that need,” Luninze said.

After college, they’ll take their skills back to Africa to help people in areas similar to the ones they were raised in, he said.

Shows are free but the group will be taking donations. All of the money collected goes toward Music for Life programs such as education and literacy or shelters in seven African countries, Luninze said.

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