It was an amazing experience - the kids got to bring the songs that we had prepared to a whole new level with a huge massed choir, new dance moves, and a whole new understanding of how to pronounce words African style. A grade 11 singer from De La Salle high school in Ottawa solo'ed on one of the numbers - what a great inspiration for our young singers.
One of the highlights was a young African singer that Scott Leithead had brought along - Nelson. He sang several songs for us, amazing us with his beautiful voice. But then, he talked about the different languages that he speaks - one of which has 4 different "click" sounds that are integral to the language. He explained that the song / rhyme that he was about to sing for us is what a child in his village would sing as they ran down the street calling for others to come and play. The looks on the children's faces as he launched into a combination of clicking and singing - sounding for all the world like two (or more) people at once! As he finished, people commented, "that's not how we invite our friends to play here - too bad!"
By the end of the afternon, the children had all learned - and experienced - the idea that in African music, the most important thing is the rhythm; the next most important thing is the singing and when it is done well and with energy, it leads us all into dancing.
A tired and inspired group of Chelsea singers made their way home for dinner, and at least in the case of the singer in my family - singing all the way!