The Five Strings and Alex Boyé - Amazing GracePerhaps the most beloved hymn of the past two centuries, Amazing Grace is performed an estimated 10 million times annually and has been included as one of the tracks on more than 11,000 albums. The song was referenced in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s acclaimed anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It was also popular during the Civil War and the Vietnam War.

The rousing hymn which is closely associated with the African-American community was ironically written by an Englishman, John Newton, who in the early part of his life was an outspoken atheist, libertine, and slave trader. Born in London to a Puritan mother and a stern ship commander father, Newton was thrust into the slave trade business in 1745, running captured slaves from Africa to Charleston, South Carolina. In 1748, after riding out a storm at sea, he found his faith, and eventually, in 1764, he was ordained an Anglican priest. In that same year, he became a clarion voice in the English Abolitionist movement and penned the words to Amazing Grace along with 280 other hymns.

The Five Strings and Alex Boyé - Amazing GraceThroughout the years, many musicians, entertainers, and choirs have sung and recorded various renditions of the classic hymn. This week’s “Video Find of the Week” features yet another stirring rendition. The Five Strings – Talisa, Tavia, Tiana, Trevin, and Tiarra – from St. George, Utah, have combined their talents along with that of world renown entertainer Alex Boyé. Per the description of the video, “You’ve heard Amazing Grace a million times, but you won’t believe it could be performed like this!”

In the Africanized style for which Alex has become known, this version incorporates original Swahili lyrics and melody written by Ricky Valadez. To get into character for the recording of the song, the Five Strings have their faces painted with African tribal paint and sing along at intervals in Swahili. Speaking about the video, they commented, “In a world full of confusion and conflict we wanted to use our voice to promote Peace, Hope, and Unity. There is so much beauty in our differences and diversity. We are so powerful when we unite and come together as one great big human family!”


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