Over the last 11 years, the Key of Hope Choir has grown and developed into an incredible long term mentorship program, and has expanded to a 50 voice choir, as well as a separate 20 voice jr. choir. This year, 30 children from the choir will be chosen to participate in a fourth tour to the United States. The tour will be located mainly in SE Michigan as we come back from being off for several years due to COVID.
To date, the Key of Hope Choir has been invited to sing in significant arenas, such as Disney World; The Palace of Auburn Hills; and the Durban Playhouse. They have also been asked to perform at various influential conferences in Durban, including the International Congress of Pediatric Laboratory Medicine; the Global Leadership Summit; and the Wholehearted Conference.
In the fall of 2012, Rachel began to prepare the choir for their first international choir tour to the United States, in spite of the fact that the organization didn’t have any way to fund the tour. A couple months later, Dan was contacted by a gentleman whom he had never met. This gentleman requested a meeting with Dan to inquire about Key of Hope. At the end of that meeting, the gentleman and his wife committed to financially sponsor the entire tour – all $50,000 of it.
The gentleman shared that Key of Hope was an answer to his prayers, because, simply put, he had been searching for a worthwhile cause to contribute to. Along the way, 100% of the housing, food and clothing needed were also donated by hundreds of generous people who believed in the mission of Key of Hope.
It was during this first tour that the choir was invited by Nashville producer/singer/songwriter, Tim West, to visit his studio. Tim West had come across an informal recording of the choir and sensed something special in the music that flowed out of the recording. Subsequently, Tim and his wife flew to Durban to meet the choir and begin the recording process, which was later wrapped up in his studio in Michigan. Tim recently recorded, mastered and produced a second CD for the Key of Hope Choir in Nashville, Tennessee.
KEY OF HOPE BEGINNINGS
In 2008, Dan and Rachel Smither sold their home in Pontiac, Michigan, along with everything they owned, so they could answer God’s call to help children that were being affected and orphaned by the HIV/AIDS crisis in Durban, South Africa. They founded a non-profit 501c3 organization called Key of Hope and arrived in Durban with their four little girls, who were ages 7, 5, 2 and 6 weeks old. The Smither’s didn’t have any family, friends or acquaintances in Durban, but they did have a deep desire to rescue children in desperate need.
When the Smither’s arrived in Durban, Dan hit the ground running and was on a mission to find the most vulnerable children. He began asking around to see where the worst areas in Durban were. People would tell him where not to go, and the very next day, Dan would walk into those communities, looking for kids to help. In the beginning, he started with one child, a little girl named Phumla. Now, eleven years later, Key of Hope is reaching almost 2,000 children with God’s love.
Before the Smither’s moved to Durban, Rachel knew that someday she would start an African children’s choir, so the children could impact the world around them and tour internationally to spread hope wherever they sang. In 2010, Rachel held her first choir auditions on a dusty soccer field in the middle of the slums her husband was working in. About 15 kids showed up. The choir practiced on that field every Friday afternoon for an hour and a half. The field was always crowded with people from the community who were playing soccer matches, or just coming and going. It was less than ideal, but it was a start.
For more information about the Key of Hope Choir, including bookings, merchandising and more, please contact Brad Brimmer at firstname.lastname@example.org.