By Jennie Jones
21 February 2003
If South African choirmaster David Mulovhedzi could unite the world, even just for a couple of hours, he’d do it through music.
Nowhere would be left out, including the Central Coast, where he will bring his 32-strong Soweto Gospel Choir next month.
“Gospel is such a wonderful thing,” said Mr Mulovhedzi.
“It heals the spirit and brings broken families together.
“It teaches people a pure way of living based on the Bible.”
At its Mingara Recreation Club concert on March 4, the choir will groove their way through 16 songs, including both western classics and traditional African numbers.
Songs that Mr Mulovhedzi says will get Central Coast residents tapping their feet include the Methodist hymn Amazing Grace, and songs by Otis Reading and Jimmy Cliff.
The choir will also perform a few of its own compositions, sung in Zulu and Swahili.
“We’re quite unique in that we combine western and South African songs,” he said. “However, even though the audience may not understand all the words, they will still get a lot from the music.”
This is the choir’s first tour of Australia, which includes nine concerts for the NSW leg alone.
Later, they are to tour the other states and New Zealand.
Accompanying them is a four-piece band and traditional African drummers and dancers.
They have a busy schedule ahead of them, though back home they are just as busy with concerts held most weekends.
“The South Africans are a God-fearing people,” said Mr Mulovhedzi.
“Christianity is a very strong thing for them.
“Our concerts are often packed out, and the audiences often stand up and sing along.
“They really enjoy it. It’s a part of life there.”
Mr Mulovhedzi himself has had a lifelong passion for gospel music.
Born in Soweto into a religious family, the eldest of five children, he had barely learnt to walk when he uttered his first lyrics.
“We all used to sing together,” he said.
At school, he received the musical training that was to set him on the road to eventually taking lead of the choir in 1986.
During his career, he has entertained audiences, including in China and Saudi Arabia, and Michael Jackson, though one of his proudest moments was playing before Nelson Mandela.
“It was such an honour to perform for him,” he told Central Coast Extra.
“He shook hands with all the choristers afterwards.
“He was so encouraging.”
Now aged 50, Mr Mulovhedzi is passing the tradition on to his own five children, aged from 27 to 13. Two of them, Sarah and Mulalo, have joined him on this tour.
If they have just a fraction of their father’s passion for this music, it looks like we’ll be hearing more from South Africa in years to come.
And if they don’t achieve world peace, hopefully there will be a few more people with smiles on their faces.