Album cover of “Voices for the Voiceless” by Pihcintu. Design by Kevin Fahrman

“One of reasons I formed this chorus is to give people an opportunity to meet refugee kids up close and personal, and once you see them and hear them, it’s awfully hard to hate them,” said Con Fullam who founded the local immigrant and refugee girls chorus Pihcintu in 2006.

You can see them perform this weekend and next in Portland.

Along with his role as founder, Fullam said he’s the director, producer, songwriter, bus driver, booking agent and snack-getter. He also works with a board of directors and a handful of trusted volunteers and chaperones.

Pihcintu released the album “Voices for the Voiceless” in August, and its 11 tracks are like candles of hope that even the darkest world can’t extinguish. The chorus features 28 singers most of whom live in the greater Portland area. They range in age from 10 to 25.

Pihcintu, pronounced “pea-sin-two,” is a Passamaquoddy word meaning  “when she sings, her voice carries far.”

Pihcintu Multicultural Chorus performs during a fundraiser for Ukrainian relief Saturday, April 16, 2022 in the Augusta Armory. Joe Phelan/Kennebec Journal

Since its inception, more than 300 girls and young women from 35 countries have participated in Pihcintu. All past members have graduated from high school and 85% have gone on to post-secondary education. Pihcintu has performed in front of more than 250,000 people and several million more via broadcast and streaming media.


Just before the pandemic lockdown in 2020, Pihcintu sang at the United Nations. U2’s Bono was there, and Fullam said the singer loved them. “Bono was terrific and gave the kids a standing ovation, took pictures and told them how great they were.”

Bono was right.

If peace could be achieved with music, let Pihcintu lead the way with its songs and message, like “The World is a Single Place,” written by Fullam.

The chorus says it all:

“A single place for everyone, a single moon a single sun/For every creed and every tongue/The world’s a single place for everyone.”

The smiles in the young voices are audible. This is not because they’re young and naive, just the opposite, in fact. Fullam said several of the chorus members have survived unspeakable atrocities and have shown incredible resiliency. They believe in the American dream, even when faced with profound anti-immigrant sentiment.


Fullam talked about how all immigrants have been stepped on since America’s founding. “Nothing ever has changed, every new wave that comes in suffers the same fate which is they end up the low person on the ladder.” But he added that, during the last administration, the country took steps backwards. “All of a sudden immigrants are the enemy, and sadly we don’t seem to ever learn,” he said.

Fullam shared the story of one family of a chorus member that traveled from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Brazil and from there spent 13 days walking through nine countries with no food other than green bananas. The eldest child, who is now 17 and a member of Pihcintu, carried two of her younger siblings on her back. “Two years after arriving here, they are all doing immensely well in school, and they just bought a house.”

Fullam contends that the intentions of most immigrants who come to Maine are similar. “They come here to work, they come here to contribute and they come here to make certain that their children have a better life.”

Another standout track is “Grace.” The slow and melodic song is like an incantation: “The cries of our children we can’t forget/Moving forward with no regret/Transformed re-imagined with grace/Seeking freedom in every place.”

Fullam said the live shows are where the chorus shines the brightest. “I don’t think in my entire career with this chorus, I’ve ever had an audience get up and walk out without giving them some kind of rousing applause.”

He hopes that people will see the resilience, power and joy the singers bring to the stage and will listen to the stories that they tell through the music.

Copies of “Voices for the Voiceless” can be purchased at the live shows and at

2 p.m. Saturday. Hines Auditorium, Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Square, Portland, free.
4 p.m. Oct. 22. Hannaford Hall, University of Southern Maine, 88 Bedford St., Portland, free.

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