Tutu visited Helena in 1990 to participate in singing group's fundraiser


Bishop Desmond M. Tutu of South Africa, who died Sunday at age 90, came to Helena in late 1990 at the invitation of a Montana political satire singing group in an effort to raise money to help educate Native American and South African children in concerts that nearly 4,000 people attended.

In 1987, members of the Montana Logging and Ballet Company, a quartet whose parodies had social and political messages, performed an anti-apartheid song, “Take the Barriers Down,” that Tutu heard during a United Methodist Global Gathering in Kentucky.

Tutu, according to The New York Times, wrote notes for the album in which the song was featured. ”Four white men from Montana cannot sound like South Africans,” he said. “But they can sing about the justice that is God’s intention for us all.”

Archbishop Desmond Tutu speaks  Sept. 20, 2011 in New York. 

Mark Lennihan/AP file

The group consisted of Steve Garnaas-Holmes, who wrote “Take the Barriers Down,” his younger brother Tim Holmes, Rusty Harper and Bob FitzGerald. They were together 38 years and performed their last public show

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