The National Children’s Choir of the Bahamas (NCCB) made a stop at Toronto Police headquarters on July 13, during their eight-day Canadian visit.
The choir was launched 27 years ago by sisters Audrey Dean-Wright and Patricia Bazard.
They were raised in Bain Town, a challenged community just south of downtown Nassau.
“This was also a nurturing community when we were young and we wanted to give something back,” said Dean-Wright, who started her own church choir at age 12 and is a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music.
Launched with 25 members, the Bain Town Children’s Choir morphed into the NCCB in 1993. With a current membership of 72 young people, from Grades one to 12, the group has appeared in several choir festivals, including the seventh Moscow Children & Youth International Choir Festival in 2004, where they finished second in the 67-country competition.
Three years earlier, they took part in the inaugural World Youth Music Festival in Russia that attracted 83 choirs from Europe and Asia.
Dean-Wright, who founded the College of the Bahamas Concert Choir in 1988 and has written three music books, said the NCCB was excited to be in Canada.
“This is our first time performing here and everyone was looking forward to the trip,” she said. “Many Canadians visit the Bahamas and a lot of our nationals have Canadian friends.”
Constable Isabelle Cotton of the Divisional Policing Support Unit helped co-ordinate the trip to police headquarters.
“We just love having events like this here and bringing other cultures to our space,” said Cotton.
The Bahamas Tourist office in Canada played an integral role in the choir’s visit.
“Generally, we invite Bahamians and network with Bahamians who are visiting Canada during the summer months,” Paul Strachan, the senior director for the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism in Canada, said. “This occasion, however, is very special because the NCCB is assisting in our efforts to promote the Bahamas by not only showcasing their talent and that of young Bahamians, but also by highlighting our culture through traditional classical music.”
Devin McKenzie joined the choir a decade ago
“After I auditioned and was accepted, I was so very happy,” said the 17-year-old, after a performance at Toronto Police headquarters. “My mom always told me I should put my talent to use and I was excited to find a place where I could do that.”
McKenzie, who also plays piano and cello and has toured Africa, North America and Europe with the choir, said he feels at home in Canada.
“Just a few hours after we got here, I felt this is a place that I could see myself living in,” he said. “It’s nice and clean and the people are warm and hospitable.”
The 30-member ensemble also performed in Ottawa before returning home.