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Gracias Choir: Meet the Korean singers fluent at Ugandan Christian music

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By Aaron Sseruyigo

KAMPALA – A few years ago, Ugandans were blown away by a recorded video that showcased an elegant and talented choir from South Korean performing a well-known local worship song titled, ‘Yansumulula.’

Many viewers wondered where the choir originates, if they understood what they were singing, and why they chose that song in particular.

Little by little, Christian leaders in Uganda took interest in the ministry group and last year, the Gracias Choir headlined two major gospel-centered events in the country that gathered not less than 150,000 Ugandans combined. 

Introducing the Gracias Choir

Gracias in Spanish means thank you. The Choir was founded in South Korea by people of various musical backgrounds who wanted to thank and praise God through music for the love they had received.

Established in 2000, the award-winning Choir continue to challenge the landscape of choral music, as well as advance among its ranks at an unprecedented speed. 

According to the information available on the choirs’s official website, they are always inspired by the love and thankfulness each member holds dearly to their hearts and their calling to praise God. 

“Gracias has the unique ability to touch the hearts of its audiences and turn sadness into joy,” the website bio reads.

The Gracias Choir has performed over 200 times in the last 20 years in numerous countries in world renowned venues, in front of presidents, kings, as well as in slums and run down neighbourhoods. 

Who is the Choir Chief Conductor? Since conducting the Gracias Choir for the first time at the Sydney Opera House in 2008, Russia-born Boris Abalyan, 71, has played a leading role in making them into a world-class choir. 

The Choir has been recognized for its excellence in musicality and has, according to Korean media, taken on being the best choir in the world. 

Joining Uganda to usher in 2019

The Choir on 31st December, 2018 performed at the “Passover Festival” hosted by the presiding apostle of the Born-again Federation Joseph Serwadda. Here, they also sung the Uganda national anthem before the President’s speech was delivered. 

The Choir later moved to Miracle Centre Cathedral – Rubaga for the 77 Days of Glory crossover prayer gathering. 

At all venues the Choir spread comfort and hope into people’s hearts through vivid sounds and soul-echoing harmonies. 

“The Gracias Choir performs around 30 countries around the world every year,” their Spokesman said at Miracle Centre Cathedral – Rubaga.

“But God arranged so that they can perform for Uganda,” he added. 

They performed songs including What a friend we have in Jesus, You raise me up, Jambo, Tukutendereza, Yansumulula among others, with some led by Park Jinyoung, a soprano powerhouse.

Pastor Park Ock-soo, the choir team leader and founder of Good News Mission was with the choir throughout the trip in Uganda.

The Gracias Choir continues to be loved by people all over the world.

Meeting the President

Unknown to many Ugandans, part of the Choir was once in Uganda in 2016. Their visit came following President Yoweri Museveni’s agreement to meet with Rev. Park Ock Soo. 

During the discussions that took place at State House Nakasero, Rev. Park, who is also the founder of the International Youth Fellowship (IYF), expressed his desire to start a mindset program with the intent of changing the mindsets and instilling hope in the lives of the young people of Uganda.

The President gave the Choir founder a go ahead, “because the programme was inspired by Biblical teachings and was derived from a religious perspective.”

Two vocalists, Park Jin Young and Choi Hye Mi from the Choir melodiously and meticulously sang for the President.

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