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Jordan Applegate | UNITY Alum & Board Member

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Okay, hold on. I know it was daylight savings time a couple days ago, but you’ve had a couple days to adjust. Let’s try that again. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. That’s better. Hey, thank you so much for taking time out of your busy days to be here for this special announcement today. My name is Jordan Applegate. I am a proud alumni of the Voices of Unity Youth Choir, and I also am incredibly honored to serve as one of our special board of directors for Unity Performing Arts foundation. But my journey did not start as a board member. As I said, I’m an alumni. At 15 years old, I had the opportunity to join the Voices of Unity Youth choir. And I thought I was walking into a room to be a part of an amazing choir. 

And I had no idea that it was quite literally going to shape the individual that I am today, the husband that I am today, the father that I am today, and the leader in my workplace, in my community, and in my church that I am today. But we’re not here to talk about me. We’re here to talk about Unity Performing Arts foundation and the Voices of Unity Youth Choir. Before I share our special announcement, I want to talk a little bit about the legacy of the voices of Unity youth choir and some incredible opportunities that we have been able to be a part of over the years. In 2010, we had the opportunity to travel to Xiaoxing, China, to be a part of the World Choir Games and represent Fort Wayne, Indiana and the United States of America. 

And we brought home not only a gold medal, but a world grand champion title in the gospel music category. Come on, we can celebrate that. That’s right. In 2012, were invited to go back to the World Choir Games on our own home turf here in the United States, in Cincinnati, Ohio, and was able to compete in the gospel and popular music categories and brought home gold medals for that as well. And in 2014, we had the opportunity to travel to Riga, Latvia for the World Choir games and compete again in the gospel music category and popular music category, and yet again brought back a gold medal from the World Choir Games. In 2016. We thought, hey, one country isn’t enough. So we decided to take on an amazing journey to do a european tour. 

We had the opportunity to go to four different countries, and we had an amazing, incredible chance and opportunity to perform in St. Peter’s Basilica, at the Vatican. We performed in many different places across the country of Italy, in Vienna, Austria, and in Budapest, Hungary. And that’s the legacy. But the beauty of what we’re here to talk about today is that we are experiencing, and you’ll hear this from Mr. White, we are experiencing a brand new generation of unity. As you all know, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on many organizations, many companies and many families. Unity felt some impacts, but we are so excited to share that we are rising up with purpose and we are going to be stronger than ever. And this new generation of unity has an incredible opportunity that’s knocking at our door. 

And I am so excited to share that this year, in July of 2024, the Voices of Unity Youth Choir has been invited to compete in the World Choir Games in Auckland, New Zealand. Not only is this a special and monumentous opportunity for me as an alumni, as I have had the opportunity to be a part of all of the other international tours and events that we’ve been a part of, but the most exciting part for me is my new title that I can wear as part of Unity Performing Arts foundation is I am a unity parent. I have two children that are in the organization. Thank you. 

And I have just such an exciting time for my wife and I to know that the organization that has quite literally shaped me into the individual that I am today, my children have the opportunity to grow up in and be a part of the same level of programming, mentorship, character artists, and artistic and leadership development that I had the opportunity to experience. So today we have a full agenda and I am excited to invite a lot of friends and unity family up to share a little bit about their experience and their support of this monumentous endeavor. First up, I’d like to invite Tom Didier, city council of Fort Wayne, for some encouragement and expressions of support. 

Tom Didier | Former City Councilman

I gave myself note so I wouldn’t go over my two minutes, but Jordan, thanks for having me here. Marshall, thanks for having me here. Yes, I am a former city councilman and the first thing I want to say, I’m just honored to speak here this morning for the voices of unity heading to New Zealand. Is that not exciting? Beautiful. So if you didn’t know, I am a singer myself and I’ve sang with the voices of unity a couple of times and it’s just an amazing experience because you’re there by yourself, you’re the soloist and you have this amazing choir behind you. And if everybody knows what it’s like singing, it’s like one voice and it’s just amazing. So I’m just excited to be here today. 

I myself, I started singing at the age of seven, so if people don’t tell you oh, don’t go sing. Don’t do this. Singing to me was everything. And it just propelled myself. Like Jordan talked about, it propelled me to who I am today and the person that it shaped and molded into the kind of person that I am. And I thank God above for the ability that he’s given me, because if it wasn’t for my parents instilling it in me and pushing me towards it, and that’s what voices of unity is all about. It’s about excellence and making the person that you are to the nth degree. And I’m just so excited for everyone here. The last thing I want to say is I’m so proud of Marshall White. Marshall and I have just have a bond, a connection. 

I really want to tell you that the 20 years that I was on city council, I personally was. I’m going to be upfront. I was disappointed with the way we didn’t give the accolades to the voices of unity, with all the things that they did. We just didn’t give them what they deserved in regards to recognition because of what they did and what they accomplished. And I hope that in the future, we have maybe a future congressman here and we have Congressman banks, who’s going to be our future senator, possibly. I’m hoping that the government entities really understand what this organization is doing and really push it forward towards the future. Because, look, I’m almost 63 years old. When I was seven, I had no idea I would be standing here today talking to all of you about what singing did for me. 

It gave me a voice. It gave me a purpose. And I want people to understand how important arts are singing and all the things that voices of unity is all about, it’s not just about singing. It’s about creating excellence in every single human being. And I’ll tell you what, these young people, when you see them and they tell you the bylaws or whatever you want to call it and how they speak it, they mean it. And I just am very proud and honored as a former city councilman to be up here speaking for voices of unity today. And I’m so excited about them going to New Zealand. And let’s give them one big round of applause. Thank you again for having me.

Landon Porter | on Behalf of Congressman, Jim Banks

Thank you, Jordan. Thank you. Marshall White. Congressman regrets he can’t be here today due to votes in Congress, but he recognizes the work of Marshall White and voices of unity. And he wanted to do something to recognize this occasion and this accomplishment. And to that end, he wanted to make a statement, which he read on the House floor of Congress. And because it was read on the House floor of Congress, it enters that statement into the congressional record, which means that your accomplishment is forever enshrined in the history of this nation and can always be. Your kids grandkids can go back, look it up and see this accomplishment that was done here. So with that said, I’ll go ahead and read the congressman’s remarks. Tuesday, March twelveth celebrating voices of unity’s youth choir’s participation in the 2024 World Choir Games. Mr. 

Speaker, I rise today to congratulate Voices of Unity youth Choir as they head to Auckland, New Zealand to compete in the 2024 World Choir Games. This honor is well deserved considering the setbacks the choir has faced over the last few years. Perhaps the most significant of these recent challenges was the departure of over 40 of their student participants in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. This did not hinder Voices of unity, however. They rallied by launching the rising with Purpose rebuilding initiative, which engaged a new wave of talented northeast Indiana youth. It is with this soulful new corral group that voices of unity achieve this tremendous success. Voices of unity will be representing Fort Wayne across the world in the gospel music category of the Olympics of the chorale world. 

This experience will be transformational for the young people involved and an ideal opportunity for them to represent their community, culture and nation to an international audience. I am proud that our community will be represented by this choir with beautiful song, and I congratulate the singers, staff and board of Voices of Unity Youth choir on their great achievement. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I yield back Jim Banks, member of Congress, Indiana’s third district. 

John Urbahns | CEO, Greater Fort Wayne Inc.

Thanks, Jordan, and thank you, Marshall, for having me here today. I get to speak a lot about what’s going on in our community and go out and sell nationally what’s going on. Our mission at Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. Is about building a nationally recognized economy. So how does music fit into that? A lot of people think that music is just a local piece. It’s about building a quality of place, a quality of life here that people can experience music. As part of our economic development strategy, we adopted advancing the music economy. How is the music economy growing in our community? And I would say that voices of unity and unity performing arts are a key partner in growing that economy. 

It’s about building a place where people can thrive, whether it be the young kids that are out singing or talented musicians like Jordan performing throughout the community or industry like Sweetwater growing and continuing to thrive. How do we continue to build that? This puts an international flair on it. I talk about a nationally recognized economy. Marshall and unity performing arts are bringing an international recognization to Fort Wayne and Allen county, and they should be commended for that. I’m looking forward to out and selling that. We have youth out singing around the world. It’s part of our music economy. It’s part that we need to continue to grow. On a personal note, Marshall’s been a great friend of mine for several years and a mentor. I’ve got lots of mentors in the community and Marshall is one of those. 

He served on our boards for years. And I thank him for his leadership, not just at unity performing arts, but also within the community and putting the time not just into the kids, but other people in the community like myself. It’s things that we can work together on. He makes me a better person just as much as he’s making these kids better people. So thank you, and I appreciate that. And I look forward to supporting unity in their goal in getting to Auckland and bringing back several gold medals. Marshall, thank you. 

Iric Headley | Surack Family Foundation

Good morning. Good morning. I’ve been invited to a few nice places, but never New Zealand. I want to make that clear. So congratulations to UPAF and Marshall White on the prestigious invitation. It’s pretty amazing. A few important items. I had the privilege of meeting Judah and Malachi. So Judah was six years old. Malachi is eight. I met them on a staircase. Judah knew the mission of UPAF not only in English, but also in Spanish, which was impressive. Malachi talked to me about how important this organization was to him. They both told me that their younger sister was a little crazy. She broke their trophy and they were not happy about that. And so we have a little bit in common. My sister never broke my trophy, but sometimes I’m like, my sister’s crazy, too. And so we had that in common. 

And it was truly impressive to stand on a staircase and talk to these two young men who appreciate this organization and who have grown so much in a short amount of time. I also met Brooklyn, who was ten years old, and she ratled off the definition of excellence. And I want to share that with you. Excellence. She defined as the quality of being outstanding or extremely good. And she also said, I’m excellent. Imagine that. Imagine that. Imagine a child relaying to a complete stranger their belief in themselves that comes from this organization. So I’m just moved by that. On a personal note, I remember being in a band room at Northrop High school. I was a drummer, a jazz drummer for many years. And I remember hearing in the choir room the voices, the sounds, the sopranos and the altos. 

And I remember hearing over and over again, them singing the same lines over and over again. I remember sitting in that drum room just thinking, man, those kids are singing that song over and over to singing the line over and over again. And later on, because I got into music production myself, I realized that is how you get that perfect line. That’s the pursuit of perfection. And knowing and hearing about this man named Marshall White for so many years. I made that connection after I walked across that hall and saw that it was this big figure, this african american leader, taking all of our students and taking all of my friends and my peers to excellence. And even then, I realized that this was going to be something amazing. 

And I encourage all of us to really remember the journey, not only of community leaders like Marshall, but the journey of the organizations that help us all to become that much better in our community as we pour into our children. There’s a quote. One of my favorite quotes is by W. E. B. Du Bois. And it says, it’s easier to build strong children than it is to fix broken men. And I believe that Marshall has really found a niche not only to build strong children, but also to help them to dream beyond just being strong children. Right. I believe UPAF truly builds the foundation for children to dream. The bridge that we need as children to dream typically leads us to the futures that we have. 

My future started with the dream to just better, to get out of some of my own circumstances, to better than individuals that I had in my life that I felt weren’t that great. And youth path has truly built these bridges for individuals and youth to dream. And not only the youth, but we have a lot of parents that see their children dreaming, and then they become dreamers themselves. And that all starts with amazing organizations like Marshall. There’s one of my favorite concepts is this idea of exposing and educating youth outside of their traditional environment. And how many individuals, how many young people get the privilege to travel beyond Fort Wayne? I remember when I worked at a youth center. I packed my Chevy suburban up with 13 kids. 

I was reminded that it was illegal at that time because you should only put about nine in a vehicle like that. So I packed them in and I drove them out to my nets. Music and when I came back to the youth center, they said, Mr. Headley, we never went past Glenbrook Mall. We never went past Coliseum. And you showed us those things. And just imagine that we have children in our community that have gone to all these different countries to showcase their talents. It means the world. But it started with the dream of Marshall White, and we have to stop and give credit for that. So give him a round of applause. So today I stand here representing the Surack Family Foundation, Chuck and Lisa Syrac. I’m privileged to be a part of that team. 

And simply put, the Surack foundation is truly privileged and honored for the longtime partnership that UPAF has allowed for all these years. They’ve allowed Chuck and Lisa to really invest and to give resources to so many things that have taken place that build the futures and build the bridges that helps our youth to dream. So we’re privileged. We’re honored to be a part of that. Thank you for the partnership. And marshall, thank you so much for all that you have done for this community, for our children. Not mine, not yours, but our children. Every child that we create dreams inside of our communities end up being a whole lot better. So thank you to everyone on the UAPF team, the family, and thank you again for allowing me to speak. Thank you. 

Paula Bridges | UNITY Parent

Good morning. Can you hear me okay? Well, I have been a member of the Unity family since 2008. I brought three children through the organization, and a granddaughter is currently a part of the organization. We participated in three travel events, 2010 to China. My youngest was only nine years old at that time. 2012 to Cincinnati, 2016 to Europe. And I will be traveling this year to New Zealand. So I’m very excited about that as a chaperone. But what I want to say, it’s great that I followed Mr. Hetley because what he says about the involvement of unity as a family, I think when parents partner with unity and engulf all the things that they are teaching, my best thing is excellence and nothing less is what he brought to our entire family. 

I use it at work and also never say no to an opportunity to grow, which is another reason why I’m traveling again this year. But I think the best example of what unity can do for your children and helping them dream is I am the mother of the current Miss Indiana. Sydney Bridges was miss Fort Wayne twice. And then she went on in January to be second runner up at Miss America. And I say that not to impress you guys, but to impress upon you guys what unity can do for children. I am a single mother of four, and Sydney was six years old when I became a single mother. And look at what she’s doing. She dreamed beyond the walls of Fort Wayne and beyond the walls of Indiana. She would have been here today, but she could not. 

So, Marshall, I thank you for what you did for our family. And I just want to say to parents, include your children, but don’t just enroll your children. Be a part of the child’s enrollment. Thank you. 

James Hunt | UNITY Alum & Program Manager

Thank you. Thank you. I don’t remember my nose being that snotty. Jordan, good morning. Like you said, my name is James Hunt. I am a technical assistant here at Unity Performing Arts Foundation. I am also an alumni of the Voices of Unity Youth Choir. I joined at the age of ten in 2004 and I am now a unity parent. I have a ten year old daughter that also sings in the same stands that I once sang in. Receiving the same training and leadership, character training and leadership training that I received when I was in the choir. And now, same way that I was able to go to China in 2010 and compete in the World choir games, she now has this opportunity to compete in New Zealand. 

And it’s honestly humbling to have this opportunity to pass on the legacy of unity and represent this great country, the city of Fort Wayne and the state of Indiana once again. And I’m humbled to be able to pass this on to this next generation. I thank you guys for giving me the opportunity to speak today and thank you guys for supporting us. 

Alivia Croxton | UNITY Alum & Student Coordinator

Good morning, everyone. Yeah, I’m a short one. Let me put this down. I would keep you guys here all day if I explained to you how much unity means to me. My eight years of being in the choir, I joined at the age of eight. I am now 25 years old, and I am a proud alumni of the Voices of Unity youth choir and the creative writing program. And I am now the student care coordinator of the organization. And it has been such an honor. I’m here to talk about the world choir game experience. I am so proud to say that I have competed in all three world choir games that the voices of unity has been a part of. Thank you. Thank you. So it is an absolute honor and privilege to be able to give back to these children what Mr. White instilled into me and unity instilled into me as a child. I look forward to being able to walk alongside these children and give them the experience of a lifetime. The coolest part of me is that I was a world traveler at the age of ten. Age of ten. Not going to Florida, not going to California. But I was in China competing on an olympic level at the age of ten. So thank you all so much for coming here. Thank you for being a part of this organization. Continue to look for us because New Zealand is not the end. Thank you, guys. 

Marshall White | Founder & CEO

And I just want to share with you guys, thanks, all of my friends, for coming and all of the people here who are special to my heart, all of the families, the children, everyone. But the journey of unity has been amazing, extraordinary. We have traveled to seven countries, and we have taken a little under 500 travelers. And let me just give you some demographics. Of these travelers, 58% has been African. American. 3% African point 45 asian. They were not 113 percent biracial 19% caucasian, 8% hispanic zip codes 4683 6% 4685 4% four six 8613 percent four six 8711 percent 46815 7% 1615 percent two five 5% 3514 percent four five 7% look at the vast impact over a plethora of people and environments in our community. Adults 40% 30% 8% young adults 30% youth and 22% children and the ages range that have traveled with us from two years old to 76 years old. Is that diversity? Yes. 

So, you know, when people talk about, okay, you’re going out of the country, this is bigger than traveling out of the country. Look at the number of people lives you are impacting. And those people lives will impact millions. And what you are seeing here today is that unity will outlive me. A lot of people say, what happens if a Mac truck hits you, Marshall? Well, God doesn’t work like that. You do know when he chooses a person to do something, he makes sure that person fulfills the mission he is assigned. And then he prepares another one to take that mission to the next level. He doesn’t let the truck hit. Ask Moses, ask Joseph, ask Paul. I mean, he has his thing in order. How he touches lives. He prepares leaders to continue touch lives. Look at the alumni who stood up here today. 

They are children that one day will lead this organization. Jordan Applegate, James Hunt, Olivia Croxton and others. And I look at Sydney Bridges. Do you know how many millions of people she touched on that world’s national stage? That one young lady touched millions of people? That’s right. Now the impact of unity performing arts. So when you get behind this program and this concept that we’re doing, this is a very prodigious undertaking, is to take a group of kids who have never been on stage, Mike, with me. Never. These kids have never performed, Dan. They have never ever did a concert with me. And they are being trained to go and compete at the highest level for the very first time. That’s an undertaking by itself. 

And if you want to be a part of making this an extraordinary opportunity, and you want to be a part of leading the right people to us to make sure we accomplish this goal, listen, this is the time to become a part of something bigger than ourselves. And if you are willing to do that, we can combat the ominous, insidious behavior of criminal activity. Drugs, rape, crime, gangs, all of these things are only fueled because we give them extraordinary attention and we put extraordinary funds behind it. That’s why they proliferate. Why do they proliferate? Because we feed it. What happens if we feed something big and good? What happens to it? It proliferates. It spreads. And when that happens, good conquers bad. 

And that’s the goal here, is to continue to fuel the good so that we can pay more of attention to the good in our children instead of the bad in our children. Once again, I want to thank you all. I want to thank Mike Pacnett for coming, and he didn’t want to say nothing today, but he’s a prophet within his own light. And thank Marlon for being here. And Christy couldn’t make it. But I want to thank you guys and for coming and being a part of this. And I need you and I need all of you in here to rally around us, lead us to people we don’t know, open up doors for unity to be fueled, to be sustained. It’s all right to continue to spark the organization, but somebody needs to start a forest fire. 

How do you start a forest fire? You take a small flame and you sustain its capacity until it takes a hold of what? More territory. And what happens? You have to call the fire engines in. You have to call the helicopters in, because that fire consumes, what, everything in its path. That’s what unity needs, is someone to take that flame and sustain it long enough for it to catch on. And when that happens, you will have a national organization that is affiliated all over the country. You will have Unity center downtown for kids to be developed starting at the age of one. You will have all of these opportunities that will change lives forever. Thank you so much, Fort Wayne, for coming, and I really value you, and I do love and honor you. Thank you so much. 

Analiese King | UNITY Alum

You. Good morning. Good morning. Everyone can hear me. Okay? Okay. My name is annalese King, and I am 18 years old. I am currently a freshman at Indiana University, Bloomington, majoring in biology on the premed track, and I’m a proud alumna of the voices of unity youth choir. Thank you. It’s a little bit new to say that I’m an alumna. I joined the choir when I was seven, and I am now 18. And this year, this late summer, will be going on my 12th year as a member of the Voices of Unity Youth Choir. I want to say, just to put it in five minutes, what the choir has instilled in me. So it’s not often that there is a program as accessible to the youth of a city like this. And we’re raised under the standard of excellence. 

Me, my little brother Kason, and my other three siblings have all been a part of the choir, as well as the creative writing program. And in that, I can confidently say that Mr. White and the creative writing program have instilled this sort of x factor in me. And it’s made it possible for me to stand in front of all of you today and to speak through the creative writing program. I was taught in middle school how to write a resume, how to properly conduct myself during an interview, as well as public speaking. And we learned these in the choir. We learn these life lessons and these values, these core values that are instilled in us, that help us to grow into these. I mean, you guys are amazing young people, amazing young children. 

And I’m content in knowing that as the choir continues and rises back up after COVID-19 that this next generation is having these same core qualities instilled in them. So we are raised under this standard of excellence and these things that we learn. And you’ll often hear me parroting them back to my little brother, and you’re going to hear me parroting them back to the students as they prepare for this monumental journey that they’re about to go on. And so we have these things. Stay focused, be consistent. We have the excellence and nothing less. We have the reach back to give back. And that’s what I plan on doing as we go forward in this journey. And I just want to say that I am really proud of the choir. I can say I’m proud of Mr. White, and I’m proud of these students. 

And when you guys are there, after all the preparation, when you guys are on that world stage representing our nation, and it’s just the music, you’re going to give us all, including yourselves, something to be very proud of. Thank you. Yes. So, as I said, I majored in biology, the pre med track, and I hope to become an OBGYN. 

Davyd Jones | UNITY Board Chair

Wow. Thank you guys so much for being here. I live by a, quote, service to others is the rent you pay for your time here on earth. On earth. If you guys can all reflect, Marshall mentioned some things about planting seeds. Just envision 24 years ago, 2000, roughly. Roughly 24 years ago, a gentleman, a farmer, moving dirt planting seeds. And that seeds, those seeds have grown up. And now we see the fruit, Marshall. We see the fruit of the labor that you put in. But I want to let everyone know Marshall did not do it alone, and no one can. John Urban’s business leaders in the community, we know what it takes to build something successful. We also understand that it takes time. We’re looking at the development here in Fort Wayne. The building structures, all the investment. 

$1.5 billion proposal for north side of the river. That wasn’t done this year, last year. That took decades to happen. Right. So I do want to make sure you recognize the people that have helped labor in the growth of unity. If you’ve volunteered, I know there’s a lot of employees here. Could you at least stand up so people can at least see. Sorry. Yeah, board members, too. Lassen. Yeah. Yeah. Just round of applause. Hope you guys can look around. People are like, Helga, like, there’s people back in the back that have labored with the growth of unity. Okay, so, again, I am the chairman of the board, and I planned on being short, but hearing all these stories is so inspiring. But while I can sit here, point a hill, it is our time to shine. 

The already world grand champion and two gold medal holder Unity performance Arts foundation is impacting our community, transforming by transforming the lives of our young leaders today and of the future. And what an exciting time to help and to inspire one another, ultimately benefiting our youth. Does anybody even know where New Zealand is? Some people who has actually traveled outside the country. We have some folks who have lived, sometimes the younger folks. How impactful that is. How impactful that is. But the intricacies of travel is not cheap, okay? It costs money. It costs capital. It cost investment. And I want to say, with the help of that investment from our community stakeholders, our community leaders, and our community business owners, we can get these kids in this organization to New Zealand and win another championship. 

All right, so the question is, how do I get involved? If you’re lazy and you want to google, just go over there, hover over to donate and give not just a dollar, $5, $500, 10,000, $100,000. You get the point. But there are some people that you can contact. Obviously, Marshall is always a point man, but there’s other people around him that helps with this. Janelle is helping steer. Janelle, can you raise your hAnd? I know I’m putting you on the spot. Is Don here at all? Don? He’s not here or myself. We’re helping raise some capital. Talking to community stakeholders, community leaders to hopefully get these kids over there. It costs money, guys. And as who’s a business owner here in town, come on, raise your hand. We understand that investment is the vehicle for growth. It takes capital to do things. 

Magnificent, right? The investment into Fort Wayne. We’re now seeing the fruit of that here present today. And we’re still going, right? So it takes capital, it takes investment. It takes community to do so. So please get involved. If you guys want to know the numbers, get a hold of us. We can go over the numbers directly. But Marshall, myself, Don and Janelle are point persons. If you’re more lazy, like I mentioned, But one more round of applause for Marshall and Unity Performance Arts foundation. Thank you so much, guys. 

Press Release

Voices of Unity Choir Announces “Rise Up Tour” to the World Choir Games in Auckland

Fort Wayne, IN – March 13, 2024 – Following a highly anticipated announcement event, the Unity Performing Arts Foundation has confirmed that the Voices of Unity Youth Choir is set to embark on the Rise Up Tour, culminating in a captivating performance at the 13th World Choir Games in Auckland, New Zealand, in July 2024. 

Emerging from the challenges and setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in the departure of many choir members, the Voices of Unity, like a Cinderella story, began their “Rising With Purpose Rebuilding Initiative.” This initiative, launched in 2022, aimed at revitalizing the choir, succeeded beyond expectations in welcoming a new generation of passionate singers eager to leave their mark on the world.

The Rise Up Tour marks a key milestone in this initiative as an inspiring return to the international stage, showcasing the talent and spirit of Fort Wayne’s youth on a global platform. At the heart of the Rise Up Tour is a message of resilience and excellence, a theme that resonates deeply with the choir and its supporters. 

“Performing and competing at the World Choir Games is a very prodigious undertaking,” said Marshall White, Director of the Voices of Unity Youth Choir and CEO of Unity Performing Arts Foundation. “Our goal is to take a group of kids who have never been on stage, and train them to compete at the highest level for the very first time. That’s an undertaking by itself.”

The announcement event, held at the Arts United Center, unveiled the choir’s rigorous preparations for the World Choir Games, including a cultural exchange initiative and community engagement plans designed to bring Fort Wayne together in support of these young performers.

Competing in the Gospel Music Category, the Voices of Unity are not just participants but ambassadors of their community and country, eager to share their music and stories with the world. 

The Unity Performing Arts Foundation extends heartfelt thanks to the community, sponsors, and supporters who have rallied behind the Voices of Unity, making the Rise Up Tour possible.

“The Voices of Unity Youth Choir, which is already a world grand champion and holds two gold medals, is impacting our community by transforming the lives of our young leaders today and of the future,” David Jones, Board Chair at Unity Performing Arts Foundation, said. “With the help of our community stakeholders, our community leaders, and our community business owners, we can get these kids in this organization to New Zealand and win another championship.”

As preparations for this monumental journey gain momentum, the Unity Performing Arts Foundation invites the community to join in supporting the Voices of Unity Youth Choir. This is an invitation to witness the power of music in uniting people, inspiring the youth, and building bridges across continents.

For more information on how to support the Voices of Unity Youth Choir and stay updated on the Rise Up Tour, please visit or contact Jane Applegate at (260) 348-0218.

Media Articles


Journey Back to 2014

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Reflecting On Our Legacy

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Our Storied History at the World Choir Games

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Unity’s Global Journey Begins!

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Fort Wayne on the Global Stage

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