Globe-trotting City Singers bound for South Africa on Goodwill Tour

Boston City SIngers: Dorchester singers Dayo Hall, Walker Douglass, Isaiah Sealey, Emily Gaylord, Alan Parkinson, and Kathleen Tevnan will travel to South Africa this summer as part of a three-week tour with the Boston City Singers. Dayo Hall, Walker Douglass, Isaiah Sealey, Emily Gaylord, Alan Parkinson, and Kathleen Tevnan. Click for larger version.

The Boston City Singers are taking their act on the road once again.

This summer, thirty-eight BCS members and founder/artistic director Jane Money will embark on a three-week South Africa Goodwill Tour that will bring them to Cape Town.

Money has been at the helm of the Dorchester-based organization since 1995 and is no stranger to travel, having led the group around the United States and the world.

“This is how it’s been in BCS,” Money laughs. “I want to go to somewhere and everyone has to come with me.”

“The primary drive is music,” she adds, “but there are so many other things that we’ll be able to learn and understand.”

Members, about 80 percent of whom are city kids, are gearing up to see the sights, meet other kids in local choruses and, of course, sing. Their partnerships in South Africa will help them share the gift of song in hospitals, schools, synagogues and churches.

Alumna and current volunteer Chloe Falivene sang in the group for about eight years. Traveling as a chorus member helped her develop as a person and gain a strong sense of independence.

“I think a lot of that independence came from traveling and realizing from very early on that there was this whole wide world outside of myself that I only had access to by coming out of myself, by meeting other people, by trying new things and by speaking in different languages,” she says.

Falivene met some of her best friends as a chorister. “It was a sort of a home away from home a lot of times,” she says.

A strong connection between friends and music is apparent whenever BCS members talk about the group.

Dayo Hall, 15, has sung with the group for about seven years and toured with them in Australia and New Zealand. “I dunno if I can put my finger on it - just the friends you make,” she says of what she likes about the group. “BCS brought music into my life so ever since I started doing it, I started doing music seriously… so it’s opened the world, I guess.”

Savin Hill native Emily Gaylord, 15, started singing with BCS in the second grade and has toured Newfoundland and Maine.

“I love traveling,” she says. “It’s one of my favorite things to do and especially ‘cause I’ll be with all my friends, so, I’m really excited to go.”

With all the excitement and responsibility of traveling, especially at a young age, comes a bit of apprehension. Isaiah Sealy, 11, a student at Pope John Paul II Catholic Academy, is wary of a South African myth about a creature in the woods whose name should not be spoken.

“Other than that, it should be fun,” he adds.

JP resident Carmen Piedad, 16, celebrated her 13th birthday while on BCS’s 2007 tour in New Zealand.
“That was a huge changing point in my life because it was the first time I traveled without my parents and I was turning into a teenager and everything that goes with that,” she says.

Like many alumni and current members, Piedad benefits from the opportunities BCS has to offer. Choristers travel and sing, of course, but many are awarded scholarships and most attend college. The key to success is not just in the sheet music; it’s in the bonds kids form with their fellow singers.
“It’s where all my true friends are,” Piedad says. “And I love spending the time singing.”

Totaling 350 singers from Boston neighborhoods, BCS’s mission is to use the power of music to bring together children and families from all neighborhoods and ethnic and socioeconomic groups. Singers range in age from 4-18 and the organization’s nine programs are based in Dorchester, Jamaica Plain and Hyde Park, including a training program for younger students and concert choruses who rehearse at the Parish of All Saints in Dorchester. For more information, visit bostoncitysingers.org.