Listen to these kids break into ‘Vegam vegam’ from the 1990 hit “Anjali”, and you have to admit it: they’re good. Not just reasonably good, but genuinely talented.
The children you see singing Rahman, Ilayaraja and Michael Jackson hits on the beach in Chennai, are from the Chennai Children’s Choir. And no, these kids aren’t the picked lot from Chennai’s elite schools. Some of them come from the poorest households in Chennai, six of the children are visually challenged, one child has spectrum disorder.
Inspired by the Chicago Children’s Choir, this choir was put together in 2015 by NalandaWay Foundation, which uses art to empower children from difficult life circumstances. From auditions in more than 200 government and trust-owned schools, 60 children were chosen to train together every weekend and perform. “These kids are talented, but they have little potential to explore that talent, to learn and to display it in their everyday lives,” says Sudha Meiyappan, Communications Manager, NalandaWay Foundation.
Given this opportunity, however, the children have blossomed and transformed, says Sudha. From finding a tight-knit peer group to exploring languages and music they have little access to otherwise, to gaining a newfound confidence in themselves, the members of the choir have discovered a whole new side of themselves.
Much of that confidence and enthusiasm is clearly visible in the video, which is a series of songs about, for or by children. Watch the video here: