Grant Pierce

Grant Pierce with the Kids

Grant Pierce, an Australian mining engineer began working in rural Tanzania in 1998. As Grant's involvement with rural village primary schools evolved a children's choir was formed by Australian volunteer teacher Louise Cameron. Education is a luxury in rural Tanzania; the school started as a two room mud hut with no doors or windows, the children sat on rocks and had no books. Over time this drastically changed for the better.

From a modest start a dream became reality when children from three village schools, Isanga, Lusu and Bujulu amalgamated as a 42 strong choir, taking the name Golden Pride Children's Choir. As the children found their voice, their confidence grew and as did their life experiences.

Grant wanted the children to realize if they wanted to be successful they had to work hard and be prepared to overcome their shyness, fear and contribute to their own success. He has constantly avoided giving 'hand-outs' and is a strong advocate of self-empowerment and ownership of projects to drive the success.

In 2003 the choir was professionally recorded and their first CD, Mapambano, was produced along with a promotional video of the children. The CD and video were sent to the WOMAD Festival of World Music in the UK for an opinion on the quality of the choir. This question was answered by an invitation to perform at the 2004 WOMAD Festival in Reading, UK.

An arduous and tenacious process of private fund raising followed. Grant and a committed group of friends raised the required money and organised the trip and logistics. The children performed in front of over 20,000 people in July 2004. When film companies Redhanded from Australia and Libravision of South Africa heard of the story they sought permission to accompany the choir from their remote village to London. A documentary of the children's journey, titled From Rags to Rhapsody, was the result.

As a result of their performance, the choir was invited to Australia in March 2006. They performed in Perth, at WOMAD in Adelaide and at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games Cultural Festival.

Grant has done and continues to invest the majority of his leisure time in social development projects. In addition to being the architect behind the choir, principal organiser and fundraiser, he has also worked with the Tanzanian Women's Lawyers Association, successfully building a legal aid clinic for impoverished women and their children in Dar es Salaam, a range of education and water related initiatives, Flame Tree Media Trust, and provision of wheelchairs for children living in abject proverty in Tanzania and Mozambique. He is also a member of the Rotary Club of Dar es Salaam. In 2003 his personal contribution to social development and poverty alleviation in rural Tanzania was recognized by being awarded the Order of Australia Medal.

Grant's passion for music has assisted Sauda Jazzmin to release her debut CD 'Simply Jazzmin' and Carola Kinasha to release her CD Maono.

Grant is one of only two non Tanzanians to have been awarded Tanzania's Zeze Award, the Country's highest accolade for promotion of Tanzanian culture. Grant currently works in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.