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A Fort Wayne youth choir that has captured five gold medals at the World Choir Games will return to the international stage for the first time in nearly a decade this summer, the Unity Performing Arts Foundation announced Wednesday.

The Voices of Unity Youth Choir – an ensemble dedicated to empowering young voices through music – expects to take about 70 people, including about 50 students, to the July competition in Auckland, New Zealand.

The upcoming Rise Up Tour is an incredible opportunity for the choir’s newest generation, said Jordan Applegate, a choir alumnus and foundation board member.

He and others at the morning news conference said the choir faced challenges from the coronavirus pandemic, including the departure of more than 40 students.

In 2022, Unity launched an initiative to foster growth, enhance visibility and ensure the organization’s stability, a news release said. It indicated the successful membership drive represented a rebirth for the choir.

“We are so excited to share that we are rising up with purpose,” Applegate told choir members, their families and supporters at the Arts United Center. “We are going to be stronger than ever.”

Davyd Jones, foundation board chair, said the fundraising goal for the New Zealand trip is $500,000.

Marshall White, foundation founder and choir director, encouraged the community to support the singers, who are being trained to compete at the highest level.

“This is the time to become a part of something bigger than ourselves,” White said. “The goal here is to continue to fuel the good so that we can pay more of our attention to the good in our children instead of the bad in our children.”

Unity Performing Arts should be commended for bringing international recognition to Fort Wayne and Allen County, said John Urbahns of Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

“I’m looking forward to going out and selling that we have youth out singing around the world,” he added. “It’s part of our music economy. It’s a part that we need to continue to grow.”

Voices of Unity compete in the World Choir Games’ gospel music category.

Brinley Lamb, 13, said she’s excited about the summer trip, describing it as a new opportunity.

“Unity doesn’t help us just sing,” she said, “but it also shapes us to be good people in our community.”

Ten-year-old choir member Leonna McIntosh said mastering the lyrics for their New Zealand performance will come later. Initial preparations include honing singing techniques, such as enunciation and vowel formation, to ensure the singers will be heard and understood.

“And also put soul into what we sing,” the fifth grader said.

Author: crownjewelpro

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