- Associated Press - Saturday, July 18, 2015

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) - Children’s choirs from across the country are using their voices to pay tribute to the nine people shot to death at a Charleston church last month.

The Post and Courier of Charleston reports (https://bit.ly/1gGGllk) the three choirs are all community choirs in their cities. They were visiting Charleston as part of the Coastal Song Children’s Choir Festival, which brings choirs from all over the country to sing at an array of venues in Charleston and Savannah.

After finishing their song, the young women of the Sacramento Children’s Chorus stood consoling each other in front of Emanuel AME Church. They shed tears, apparently affected by the experience of singing at the scene of such a tragedy. And while she had finished conducting, director Lynn Stevens was still focused on her choir.

“You’re not performing,” Stevens recalled telling the girls earlier as they rehearsed. “This isn’t a show. It’s about you, and you feeling.

“The whole state of California has been moved,” Stevens said. “These girls are already involved in social justice. And as children, they are so full of hope. Through music, they touch the soul and show that we are all part of this.”

The Sacramento chorus, which consists of girls ages 12 to 18, was one of three children’s choirs to sing in front of Emanuel AME on Friday. The Phoenix Girls Chorus, which features girls in seventh through 11th grades, followed slightly before noon with an a capella rendition of “America the Beautiful,” and the Chamber and Lyric choirs of the Indianapolis Children’s Choir, which includes boys and girls in fifth and sixth grades, sang a couple of songs, including “We Shall Overcome,” later in the afternoon.

The performances at Emanuel AME Church were not initially a part of the festival’s itinerary. The manager of the Sacramento group said it was the girls in the choir who wanted to sing at Emanuel, which gained attention after a white gunman allegedly killed nine black parishioners attending a Bible study on June 17.

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Information from: The Post and Courier, https://www.postandcourier.com

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