The first-ever national choir competition designed to connect Christian choral groups to a global cause is currently accepting contest entries and will continue through December.
Based off the documentary "We Are Together," which celebrates the achievements of the Agape Orphanage in Africa, the nationwide competition is open to any non-professional choir group, including church choirs, worship teams, and high school and university choral groups.
The choir competition seeks to raise awareness of Africa's AIDS and orphan crisis, while encouraging participants to experience the music of the Agape children's choir.
"With more than 25 million already dead, the disease continues, wiping out whole societies, threatening economic infrastructure and creating tragic devastation in the family structure," states the Keep A Child Alive Foundation, which has generously supported "We Are Together."
"Currently 15.2 million children worldwide have lost one or both parents to AIDS, and by 2010 the number is expected to reach 25 million. 13 million of these children are in Sub Saharan Africa," it adds.
"We Are Together," which recently aired on HBO, tells the story of 12-year-old Slindile, her siblings and friends at the Agape Orphanage in South Africa, where most of the children have lost their family to HIV/AIDs. Through their extraordinary musical talents, the children overcome difficult struggles and eventually earn worldwide recognition – for their struggling orphanage and the HIV/AIDs crisis.
The film has received numerous awards worldwide at several prestigious film festivals, including winning the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival Audience Award; the Audience Award at the Edinburgh Int'l Film Festival; the Audience Award at the Amsterdam Int'l Documentary Film Festival; and the Audience Award at the Amnesty Int'l Film Festival, among others.
Organizers of the documentary-based choir competition are encouraging groups to enter and be part of a national movement to bring all voices together in advancing the awareness of orphans and AIDS in Africa.
"Demonstrate advocacy on behalf of the Christian community, and encourage others to support the Agape Children's Choir," they say.
To enter, groups must film themselves signing "We Are Together," the documentary's theme song, and then upload their performance to YouTube and email the link to Palm Pictures, the North American distributor for the "We Are Together" film.
The entries will be viewed by a panel of celebrity judges, who will base their decisions on showmanship, musicality, creativity, technical achievement, and overall performance.
The first five submissions will be featured on HBO.com, and awards include thousands of dollars worth of prizes, including new choir robes.
The contest, which closes on Dec. 15, is not open to professional singers or performers.
The winner will be determined on or around Jan. 15, 2009.
On the Web: Competition details and entry form at us.wearetogether.org.