Celebration revved up

2010-03-27 10:04

JOHANNESBURG’s

famous summer thunder has nothing on the eight women shaking the stage of the

tiny but elegant Old Mutual Theatre on the Square in Sandton.

In

their pretty cocktail dresses of varying shades of green – from candy apple to

mint – the divas have the small audience roaring in approval as they belt out

choruses and hymns ­accompanied by electrical guitar and keyboard.

People

are cheering wildly, screaming and holding out their hands. Such is the power of

Joyous Celebration – eight singers can move a room of 50 just as much as their

choir of 35 can transform a venue of 20 000 into a full-scale revival, something

I witnessed at Sun City last year.

There,

Joyous fans and groupies turned the hedonistic entertainment resort’s superbowl

into a raucous house of worship – there was the pre-requisite screaming, crying,

hands were pointed heavenwards, eyes closed and enraptured expressions all

around. It was enough to make any agnostic become a card-carrying member of a

church, any church.

“Whenever

we are in front of an ­audience, we transcend entertainment and inspire people,”

explains Mthunzi Namba, pastor and one of Joyous Celebration’s three founding

fathers.

This

is not an egotistical brag, it is true.

As

a breathless Khabonina Qubeka gushed after the short performance, “Oh my God,

that was intensity personified! I feel so blessed.”

Joyous

Celebration has long ceased being a band or choir; they have ­become a brand, an

institution that has launched the careers of musicians such as Margaret Motsage,

multi-instrumentalist and producer Concord Nkabinde, Innocent Modiba, Nokukhanya

Dlamini, award-winning guitarist Ernie Smith, Vicky ­Vilakazi and Swazi Dlamini,

to name a few.

Pastor

Benjamin Dube is another solo artist who was part of Joyous Celebration, while

Sharon Dee, also launched her career there along with the late Wendy Mseleku and

young gospel sensation Ntokozo Mbambo, who was discovered in 2001 when she was

only 14.

Started

in 1998 by Namba, gospel supremo Jabu Hlongwane and producer extraordinaire,

Lindelani Mkhize, Joyous Celebration has risen to unparalleled heights, selling

two million units from 13 albums and live DVD recordings.

They

have scooped several South African Music Awards including the 2008 Sama for Best

Traditional African Adult Contemporary DVD for Joyous Celebration Live at the

Sun City superbowl.

“We

have nailed the South African market. The only thing left for Joyous Celebration

to do now is to go international – and in a big way,” says former member and

contributor Brian Temba.

The

R&B crooner, who is hot property with his sexy Dominoes song dominating the

airwaves, says he has the group to thank for his success.

“Joyous

has given me a platform to grow spiritually and professionally. Singing for this

group is a challenge because it has so many talented singers ,” say Temba, who

started off backing another Joyous alumni, Vicky ­Vilakazi.

Spiritually,

the devout Christian says belonging to a family like Joyous has made him live

the “lifestyle” even more. “You don’t have to be a church-goer when you join,

but spirituality is a huge part of what we do. We pray before rehearsals, we

pray before a show, we pray during the show and we pray after. It becomes

ingrained and so much part of your everyday life,” says Temba.

Namba

agrees that you don’t have to be a Jesus freak to be accepted as a member of

Joyous Celebration.

“It’s

nice to know our members ­belong to a certain religious affiliation because it

helps with the way we communicate, but singing talent is what we are ultimately

about.

“Sometimes

people don’t even know they are spiritual until they have an awakening when we

sing,” says Namba.

Joyous

Celebration is recognised as having a lot to do with the rise of Pentecostal

charismatic praise in townships across the country.

Namba

concedes that “we’ve definitely influenced the standard of worship in

churches.

“People

take our music into their churches, even in the traditional ones where it’s

quiet and severe, you’ll see that during collection time people put down their

hymn books and start praising in a loud and happy manner.

“For

me, praising God is not about you wearing jeans to church or clapping your hands

and dancing; it’s about what you come out with in your heart when you leave the

church. It’s about being fulfilled.”

With

Joyous 14, the troupe will be performing across the country and holding

auditions for new blood. As is the tradition at Joyous Celebration, raw talent

is unearthed, nurtured, and when members are ready to fly solo, they open up the

space for new talent.

As

Temba puts it: “At Joyous, they allow you to be and celebrate who you are and

what you believe in.”

  • City Press and Joyous Celebrationare giving away 10 double tickets to each of the concerts taking place in the following cities. To win tickets name one former Joyous Celebration memeber who has gone solo since the inception of the group. SMS pulse/ answer/town to 42911. SMS charged at R3. Competition closes on Tuesday 12pm.
  • Tshwane, State Theatre, April 1 to 4
  • Cape Town, His People Centre, 1 May
  • Mafikeng, Mmabatho Convention Centre, 5 June
  • Durban, ICC Durban, 31 July
  • PE, Yebo NMMU Missionvale campus, 7 August

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