Celebrating a joyous blend of sound

2010-12-12 15:10

A 27-year-old Dutch graduate has joined local black gospel group Joyous Celebration – “to blend in”.

Annalous Haver, who was born in the Dutch town of Callantsoog, will join the choir for their tour this year. She will become the first white member.

“South Africa is so divided. It shouldn’t be like that. I’m trying to blend in. More people should try to do that,” she says.

Integration would be her message if she were to make music her career. “I would like to lessen the divisions in South Africa, even if it’s just through me as an example.”

Haver receives help form the other choir members when singing in African languages, although she already knows a small amount of Zulu from spending time in Durban. She is taught the pronunciation and then, according to Haver, it’s up to her to practise “day after day, day after day”.

However, it is not an easy task. “I still struggle with some songs,” she says.

Haver’s parents have always had an interest in the country, which inspired her to visit. She is also interested in other cultures. “I just loved South Africa the moment I got here,” she says.

Haver came to South Africa to complete a graduate project in social work at the University of Utrecht.

Her project focused on the difference between children living on the street in Holland and those in South Africa. It took her to Durban.

It was here that she was discovered by Pastor Vusi Dube while attending his service at the Ethekwini Community Church.
This introduction to gospel music, and Zulu praise and worship songs, paved the way for her to join Joyous Celebration. “Gospel-wise, it’s the best in South Africa,” says Haver.

While Joyous Celebration hopes that Haver’s inclusion will broaden its audience and increase the number of white applicants in future, founder Jabu Hlongwane says it’s not about race.

“We’re looking for people who can sing. We don’t want to appoint a white person just for the sake of it. If you hear Haver sing, you’ll see why she’s here.”

Joyous Celebration usually has intensive auditions, but because Haver was in Holland she sent in a demo. Based on her renditions of Namhla Nkosi (Today God) and Uyinkosi Yezulu (God of Heaven) she was selected to join the gospel project.

After selection, the performers of Joyous Celebration attend workshops and rehearse for six or seven hours a day before recording and touring the country. Performers sign with the group for one year, although some will be with Joyous Celebration for longer.

» Joyous Celebration will begin touring over the ­Easter weekend. Their first show will take place in Pretoria. DVDs and CDs will go on sale in the New Year


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