5 February 2003
Direct from Africa, the Soweto Gospel Choir will perform a program of tribal, traditional and popular African gospel in the first tour of Australia. Earthy rhythms, rich harmonies, a capella and charismatic performances will combine to uplift the soul.
Q.How long have you been involved with the choir?
A.I have been involved with the choir since 1996. Three months ago we had to go around the churches selecting the singers. We auditioned about 200 people and we have selected 32 beautiful voices for the performances.
Q.What attracted you to perform in Australia?
A.We wanted to come to Australia to share some of our special music from our homeland. But we have included some Western music also. We sing songs in both languages, South African and English.
Q.Do you like the different styles of music? There seem to be a few different influences in your repertoire.
A.We like reggae music very much. It came up as a wonderful type of music which I and members of the choir wanted to include. We have used some songs from Otis Redding and Jimmy Cliff. Our program includes Amazing Grace and Paradise Road, and amen, people like hearing those songs.
Q.You must get a good reception for songs that are familiar to people. Do people enjoy those or the African songs more?
A.Everybody seems to enjoy it when we sing all the songs. It is very much uplifting music. I have been a religious man since childhood and I would say that our choir creates a spiritual experience.
Q.Where have you been touring already?
A.We have been touring South Africa and after we have performed around Australia we will go to New Zealand to perform over there.
Q.You have performed for some famous people in your time. Can you tell us about some of your best experiences?
A.Performing for Nelson Mandela was a very wonderful thing. We felt very much honoured to be invited to perform for such a great man. It was a very spiritual experience. After the show we went around and shook hands with him and he was a very humble gentleman. Last year we performed for the Prince of Saudi Arabia and we have also performed for Michael Jackson.