Nightly News   |  December 20, 2010

Compton choir sings of a hope-filled future

Making a Difference: In a part of Los Angeles that's famous for all the wrong reasons, the Voice of Destiny choir is sharing the gift of hope. NBC's Kristen Welker reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> finally here tonight, our "making a difference" report comes from a part of l.a. that has become known across the country for all the wrong reasons. but tonight, you're about to see a positive side of this community because something good is getting a lot of attention and inspiring hope during this holiday season . nbc's kristen welker has our story.

>> reporter: at compton 's greater zion church family, pastor michael fisher uses the power of music to help transform a city plagued by poverty and crime.

>> the message is hope, integrity, character, which is an alternative to what is being presented to us in compton .

>> reporter: with a lot of tough love, fisher leads 40 young men and women from the neighborhood. he calls them voices of destiny. tell me what it means to you to be a part of this, what impact has it had on your life?

>> i would literally be in the streets somewhere. i wouldn't be the same person that i am.

>> it keeps me out of trouble, because the type of neighborhood i live in, there's so much going on. there's crime and violence and gangs.

>> reporter: but being a part of this gospel choir requires dedication, and discipline.

>> we have strenuous choir rehearsals and the hours are long. but we're a family.

>> reporter: that work paid off when the choir performed at verizon's premiere gospel competition. they wore red and blue, colors of conflicting gangs, symbolizing instead a unified compton . and they won.

>> congratulations!

>> they always say nothing good comes out of compton , but you can't say that anymore.

>> reporter: the prize money , $40,000, will help build a youth center at the church, the first in this neighborhood.

>> compton is filled with so many young people who plan to achieve their dreams. you'll be shocked and surprised by all that comes from this city.

>> reporter: a city lifted up by one man and a musical group , hitting all the right notes. kristen welker, nbc news, compton , california.

>> by the way, you can read more about voices of destiny, you can hear more of that good gospel music on our new "making a difference" website. you'll see a link that takes you right there on the website of this broadcast, nightly.msnbc.com.