Prince George Citizen. December 26, 2016 By Frank Peebles
Grandmothers in Africa are having to become full-time parents again, raising the children of a generation ravaged by fatal disease. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has killed many parents, leaving surviving children left alone save for their elders.
Grandmothers in Canada, including a chapter in Prince George, is linking their support to these African senior sisters. An evening of community singing will be held early in the new year to raise awareness and funds.
Just Let Us Sing is an event organized by the local chapter of the Grandmothers To Grandmothers (G2G) Campaign, an initiative of the Stephen Lewis Foundation.
Special guest Tina Filippino will conduct a chorus for an evening of singing – a chorus made up of all the people who come to listen and take part.
Filippino is the leader of the Letz Sing Community Choir in the Comox area, which was founded on the principles of getting everyone involved in song, even if you aren’t trained at it, even if you might think you haven’t the voice for public singing. She led a presentation at a G2G conference in Vancouver attended by Prince George’s Maggie Spicer, one of the grandmothers in the P.G. chapter.
The community singing experience thrilled her and she knew this city would enjoy the experience.
“The belief behind it is everybody can sing, everybody has a voice, and the more you do that together, the more you make community,” Spicer said. “Even those who feel they are not good at singing can add their voice and that is supported by the other voices.”
It’s meant to put an arm around participants and escort everyone past the social messages and inner voices that tell us singing is only for the musically trained, that only professional-grade vocalists deserve a song. Filippino’s events get everyone singing who wants to share in the music.
“She’s really inspiring and she has a way of making people feel at ease about it. Everyone will be joining in before you know it. It’s good for you and good for your community,” Spicer said.
The main musical theme used by Filippino in her public-sing events is the ancient tradition of call-and-response. Leading voices present a word or a line, and the rest of the crowd sings it back. Whole songs can be built on this concept.
“Tina is part of the Ubuntu Choirs Network, a growing community of choirs who believe that the joy of singing is a universal birthright, and that together, regardless of musical background, we can help improve the world by joining voices in song,” said Spicer.
The singing will be fun to do and impressive to hear, Spicer said, and the money raised by the event will be invested in the grandmothers of Africa who are forced to raise their grandchildren and other people’s grandchildren as a result of the wipeout of parents due to the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Two other choirs from the Prince George community will be on hand to get the event going with song. The Redeemed Christian Church Choir and the Forever Young Chorus will each sing prior to the community singing component. The first song is sung at 7 p.m. at Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church (at Dufferin Avenue and Ospika Boulevard).
Entry is by donation.