Zimbabwean orphans launch bid for Christmas Number One

By staff writers
December 5, 2007

A unique recording of a traditional Shona lament and a Western Christmas carol is entering the race for this year's Christmas Number One.

The single - Makandifira/Silent Night - features a 30-strong Zimbabwean children's choir, all of them residents of Makumbi Children's Home and either orphaned by AIDS or HIV positive, singing with the London Oratory School Schola (choir).

It is intended to raise both funds and public awareness of the plight of African children facing the devastating effects of that continent's HIV/AIDS crisis.

The project was the initiative of two of London's most respected music professionals - Lee Ward, Director of Music at the London Oratory School, and Chris Birkett, a music producer who has worked with international stars including Sinead O'Connor, Talking Heads and The Pogues.

Lee and Chris travelled to Zimbabwe in mid-November to record the Zimbabwean choir, before returning to London to add the voices of the London boys at Angel Studios in Islington.

The trip to record the choir in Zimbabwe was organised and part-financed by Jesuit Missions in London: the Makumbi orphanage was established by the Jesuits and currently cares for over 100 children from 0-18 years old.

Many of the children have come to stay at the Home having been found abandoned by the side of the road, left there by grandparents or other members of their extended family no longer able to cope with the burden of caring for these young orphans.

The London Oratory School Schola's most recent recorded work can be heard on the soundtrack of the Christmas blockbuster movie The Golden Compass.

The CD was launched at the World AIDS Day concert at Cadogan Hall, London, at which the Schola performed in a Requiem Concert for raising funds for AIDS charities.

The CD is now on sale at £5 (including P & P) from Jesuit Missions and the single will also be available to download after 10 December from iTunes.

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