An African choir in full cry

2009-09-05 00:00

THERE'S nothing that quite compares to an African choir in full cry. Okay, perhaps I'm biased. But I've yet to talk to someone who hasn't experienced goose bumps when hearing the Soweto Gospel Choir sing.

Besides their Grammy award-winning songs off the album Blessed, songs in the choir's repertoire include hits such as In The Name Of Love by U2, John Newton's Amazing Grace, Bob Dylan's I'll Remember You and Vusi Mahlasela's songs Mighty River and River Jordan.

When combined with rich harmonies (both a capella and with musical accompaniment), energised dancing and colourful costumes, the choir's repertoire has inspired audiences around the world to tumultuous applause.

The good news is that this South African treasure has returned home for a national tour and will be performing three shows at the Playhouse Theatre in Durban at the end of this month.

“Soweto Gospel Choir is thrilled to be performing in Durban for the first time,” says Beverly Bryer, executive producer of the choir. “Several choir members, including the musical director, are originally from KwaZulu-Natal where there is such wonderful local talent, so for them, performing to a home crowd is something very special. They may travel overseas for nine months of the year, but South Africa is where they enjoy performing the most.”

It was four years ago that this choir was born, performing outside South African borders for the first time in 2003 when the choir toured Australia. Since then, the choir has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, it has performed for Bill Clinton, had sold out concerts throughout the world and has sung alongside icons such as Bono, Peter Gabriel, Queen, Diana Ross, Johnny Clegg, Jimmy Cliff and Bebe Waynans. Its unique, yet universal appeal has led to a recording with Robert Plant and recently as the support act for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Germany.

Under the direction of Bryer, musical director David Mulovhedzi, associate musical director Lucas Bok and choreographer Shimmy Jiyane, the Soweto Gospel Choir draws on the best talent from the many churches and communities in and around Soweto. Performed in six different languages, including English, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho, the choir's earthy rhythms, rich harmonies and charismatic performances create a unique blend of inspiration, soul and celebration of the unique spirit of South Africa.

“I believe it can be attributed to the unique talent we have in our country and also to the amazing joy of singing and performing that shines through whatever this choir does. Be it African gospel, backing superstars or singing happy birthday to Archbishop Desmond Tutu on his 75th birthday, this choir continues to grow from strength to strength,” says Bryer.

• The Soweto Gospel Choir will be performing on September 28 at 8 pm, with two shows on September 29 at 3 pm and 8 pm. Tickets priced from R60 to R140, are available through Computicket at 083 915 8000, through Computicket, at www.computicket.com or by phoning the Playhouse box office at 031 369 9540.

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