Soul Children is a choir movement for children and teenagers aged 10-16 years. What started as a single, independent choir and subsequently a choir concept for young teens, has since become an international movement for multiple age groups.
The Soul Children movement encompasses many different activities. The International Soul Children Festival is held biannually in Oslo. In addition there are choirs for different ages, fundraising projects, workshops, church services as well as local and regional gatherings.
Normisjon’s Bible school in Grimstad also has its own Soul Children team which is tasked with running local Soul Children projects in Ecuador and in Cuba.
At the heart of this movement is the individual Soul Children choir Because of this, Soul Children is the name of both the local choirs and the movement itself.
The founder of Soul Children, Ragnhild Hiis Ånestad, started the first Soul Children choir in Oslo in March 2001. She had been inspired by, Mr. Walter Whitman’s choir Soul Children of Chicago. Having seen them first-hand and experiencing their motto: “encouraging our youth and providing hope and inspiration in a world filled with challenges and despair”, Ånestad saw a need to similarly encourage and give hope to the youth of Norway.
Oslo Soul Children (OSC) became a success with CD releases, television appearances, musical awards and most importantly, changed lives. Inspired by their stories of success, many more local Soul Children choirs began to spring up in churches and congregations across Norway. Oslo Soul Children thus became the movement’s pilot choir, and in 2006, Acta – barn og unge i Normisjon (translated “Acta – children and young people in Normisjon”) adopted Soul Children as one of their main programs.
The Soul Children Movement
Today, Soul Children is Norway’s fastest growing choir movement with approximately 200 local choirs across the country. In an effort to continually improve the musical, spiritual and social aspects of the movement, Oslo Soul Children and Acta remain heavily involved in producing resource materials, improving organization, models, content, and more.
Those of us who work with Soul Children identified a special need to find ways to reach young teenagers – the new generation – with the gospel. Children as young as 5th grade (10-11 years old) are part of the movement. Our desire is to take each member seriously, regardless of their age or where they are at in their lives.
Gradually, we have seen the need to incorporate different age groups into the movement. For those a bit younger, pre-Soul Children; for families, Soul Family Choir; for older youth, Soul Teens; and finally for parents, Soul Parent Choir. In addition, SoulMate is our own missions and fundraising concept.
Soul Children is growing rapidly, and not just in Norway. Abroad, we currently have approximately 100 active choirs, and you can find at least one choir in the following countries: Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Latvia, India, Ecuador, Cuba, Chile and the USA – and the list is expected to grow.
Vision and Values
Our vision is
”Leading young people to a lifelong relationship with Jesus Christ through song and music they can relate to.”
In addition to the vision statement, the Soul Children movement has five core values that serve as the foundation for what we do:
- Glorify God
- Honor people
- Influence society
- See and be seen
- True joy and honesty
Be a Part of the Movement
No matter where you are from, you and your choir are welcome to be part of the Soul Children movement. Although we might be from many different countries, Soul Children has a saying: “We are the Soul Children, we are a family”. Join us today, and become part of an international movement determined to spread the Good News across the earth – and have fun doing so!
Oslo Soul Children & Oslo Soul Teens
Oslo Soul Children is the movement’s pilot choir, and consists of 90 singers from the Oslo region. In addition to releasing 11 albums, the choir has been on tour in the US four times, collaborated with various well-known artists and producers, and performed at a number of events and tv-shows. For their efforts, they have been granted the Petter Dass-award, as well as being nominated for the Norwegian Grammy Award (Spellemannsprisen). Ragnhild Hiis Ånestad is the choir’s founder and conductor.
Oslo Soul Teens was started in 2005, and consists of the choir members aged 16 and up. In addition to performing around Norway, this choir has held concerts in Germany and Sweden. The teens have worked on the worship music project “Next Level”, and released two albums: “Victory”, a musical about life, relationships and faith(2011) and “Real Life” (2015). “Real Life” topped the iTunes New Album charts in July 2015.
Ragnhild Hiis Ånestad is originally from Kragerø, a small town in the southern parts of Norway. She is presently employed as the leader of Soul Children by Acta – barn og unge i Normisjon, is the founder of the Soul Children movement, and is the musical leader of Oslo Soul Children & Oslo Soul Teens.
In addition to leading the Soul Children movement, she spent several years as part of the leadership team of the Seaside Gospel foundation, and eight years as the musical leader of Norwegian Gospel Voices. Ragnhild holds choir seminars across Europe, and has acted as conductor, producer, songwriter and singer on a number of recordings.