Oakland boys' choir to sing for Mandela service in DC

The Pacific Boychoir Academy were invited to participate in a Washington D.C. service in memory of South African leader Nelson Mandela.
December 9, 2013 9:45:08 PM PST
An acclaimed boys' choir from Oakland is heading to Washington D.C. Tuesday morning to take part in a service in memory of South African leader Nelson Mandela. ABC7 News met with the talented students of Pacific Boychoir Academy.

The invitation to perform came at the request of the South African Embassy to the United States. The students visited the country in 2009 and left such a positive impression organizers asked them to be part of the memorial service recognizing the South African leader.

The boys of the Grammy Award-winning Pacific Boychoir Academy in Oakland are all between the ages of 11 and 18. We caught up with them at rehearsals.

"This is really bringing us close to everyone else in the world who are mourning the death and celebrating the life of Nelson Mandela," said Zachary Salsburg-Frank from the Pacific Boychoir Academy.

Salsburg-Frank was part of the original group to visit the birthplace of the South African leader in 2009. He said, "Hearing about him and learning about him has been great and this is an honor to sing for him."

The academy started 15 years ago with the mission of music and academic development working in harmony.

"We don't just sing classical, we don't just sing pop, we don't do anything in particular, we sing everything," said Adam Arega from the academy.

At the memorial service the group will perform a mix of traditional South African hymns and a classical American gospel song.

Founder and artistic director, Kevin Fox says this trip will be unlike any other. He said, "People like Nelson Mandela connect all of us together. It doesn't matter who we are, what country we're from, what time we're from, his message is timeless."

This will be a whirlwind tour. The boys will rehearse most of the night, board a plane in the morning and then hit the stage for their performance in D.C. at 10 a.m. on Wednesday and back to class and rehearsals for their holiday concert on Thursday.

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