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Once in a lifetime opportunity to join Welsh youth choir heading stateside

Youth movement Urdd Gobaith Cymru is pleased to announce that applications are now open for its brand-new choir – Côr yr Urdd – which will travel to Alabama in 2022.

The choir will be formed to mark the Urdd’s centenary in 2022 and offer a once in a lifetime opportunity for young people across Wales to come together and perform in Alabama.

Any individuals between the ages of 18 and 25 can apply to be part of the choir and grab a seat on the exclusive trip. There is no need to be a member of a choir already or have previous experience of singing in a choir. Applicants are required to complete an online form and submit a short recording by the 14th of October 2021.  

16 winners of this year’s Eisteddfod T digital festival have already been offered the opportunity to join the choir.

The opportunity comes following the transatlantic partnership between the Urdd and UAB, the University of Alabama at Birmingham. As well as organising for the Urdd Choir members to perform at concerts in Alabama, to learn more about the gospel singing tradition and the Civil Rights Movement and history in Alabama, the aim is to invite UAB Gospel Choir to perform at the Urdd Eisteddfod in Denbighshire in 2022.

The relationship between the Welsh and the Afro-American community in Birmingham, Alabama was formed over fifty years ago following a terrorist attack by the Klu Klux Klan on the 16th Street Baptist Church. As a sign of support and solidarity, the people of Wales donated a stained-glass window, and to this day, it is known as the Wales Window. 

Siân Lewis, the Urdd’s Chief Executive, and the then Welsh Education Minister Kirsty Williams’s official visit to the church and the young people of Birmingham, Alabama in 2019 strengthened that relationship. As a result, final arrangements for the UAB Gospel Choir’s visit to Wales and the Urdd Eisteddfod in Denbighshire were halted by the global spread of Covid-19.

In light of the pandemic’s challenges, a virtual gospel choir was formed between some Urdd members and UAB students, and to celebrate Thanksgiving in November 2020, they joined forces to sing in Welsh for the first time, to release a cover of Every Praise by Hezekiah Walker, called ‘Canwn Glod.’

As the Urdd approaches its centenary in 2022 it has ambitious plans to ensure Wales makes a positive impact, to ensure that more people know about Wales, offer international experiences for young people, and celebrate the cultural richness of Wales as well as share good practice with international contacts in the success of increasing confidence, use and enjoyment of a minority language.