ATLANTA -- An ambitious young journalist decided to leave steady work in Atlanta and travel to a small country in eastern Africa that has endured decades of war, human rights violations and extreme poverty, to share a story she says had to be told.
Erin Levin is not a typical passport stamp collector. The 27-year-old Atlanta native embarked on an enormous project to bring little boys and girls from Africa to the big screen.
With her small team, Levin is creating a coming-of-age documentary feature film, Imba Means Sing. It's about 20 boys and girls from Uganda, one of the poorest countries in the world, who are spending 18 months on the road in the U.S., Canada and the U.K.
While traveling from small towns to big cities, the kids share their music.
"They're under a lot of pressure from their families to perform back home," Levin said.
And by perform, she doesn't just mean singing. These children have their weight of their families and future on their shoulders.
"These kids are their families' only chance at making it to the next level in life," Levin said.
Without the non-profit Grammy-nominated African Children's Choir, these 7- to 12-year-olds wouldn't get past the first grade.
"They tour the world for a year and a half, and it raises enough money to pay for their education through college," Levin said.
Angel and Moses, both 9, have big ambitions. Moses wants to be a pilot when he grows up, and Angel wants to be the first female president of Uganda.
Levin's interest in the children and their music has developed over the last decade. In college, she studied music of the civil rights movement.
"Julian Bond, who was then the president of the NAACP, was my professor, and he said if I wanted to understand black music, I needed to understand where it came from," she said.
After countless classes on Africa, Levin accepted a Peace Corps assignment in Madagascar. CNN was next, but Levin said she was compelled to leave her job and share the story of hope.
"These kids changed my life. They gave me perspective," she said. "If they can change my life, I believe they can change millions of other people's lives."
A concert and party for the African Children's Choir will be held Thursday at the Buckhead Theatre. Framed artwork by the choir members will be for sold, as will necklaces made by the children's mothers.
Those who can't catch the show can still hear the choir perform the national anthem at Friday's Braves game.