Denise Pelley leaves her home in London, Ontario, and travels more than 11,000 kilometres to a town in Sudan, Africa. There, she runs a music and art camp for the kids of the south Sudan.
And there are a lot of kids. When Pelley first made this journey, under the auspices of Canadian Aid for South Sudan, a few dozen children attended. This year, her seventh consecutive trip, up to 600 are expected to attend.
This is Pelley’s personal project. The popular vocalist takes supplies and instruments with her, and funds the entire $5,000 effort herself, through sales of her Christmas CD, and through fundraising concerts.
This year, those fundraising efforts include an event taking place on Sunday, Oct. 27, at Thamesview United Church in Fullarton. Pelley will be in concert at 3 p.m., backed by the New Hamburg Live! band — pianist Charlene Nafziger, bass player Junior Riggin, and drummer Mike Erb.
The children from Thamesview United have spent their fall Christian Education time learning about relief and development in the Sudan, and will perform with Pelley.
Admission to the concert is free, but donations to Pelley’s Sudan project are encouraged.
Looking forward to her 2014 African outreach, Pelley says, “The music camp provides a way for kids to come together, express themselves regardless of their circumstances and see that people have not forgotten about them.”
She added, “ Every day we see the same little faces. It always amazed us that some of the children joined us each day, even though they had to walk a very long distance to be there.
“Each year we run the music and art camp I feel it is such a privilege to share our passion for music and art with these very special children. It is my hope, and that of my teammates, that we have brought some joy and laughter to these little children. We hope they will carry these fun times that we shared together in their memories always… I know we will.”
Pelley is an award-winning Canadian jazz, blues and gospel singer, who has sung internationally, including in Germany and Portugal, and across Canada. She has starred at major jazz festivals, opened for Aretha Franklin, and performed on CBC and CTV.
Thamesview pastor Rev. Nancy Knowles says, “We’re thrilled to be able to help Denise in her outreach in Africa. She is a wonderful talent but, more importantly, she has the biggest heart, and her work with these children is amazing. It’s a privilege to be involved, and it’s a terrific opportunity to teach our children more about children’s lives in another part of our world.”
For more information about the Oct. 27 concert, contact Rev. Knowles at 519-788-5819.