By Mike Hu
4 June 2004
Business Times Singapore
‘Did you feel Africa?’ Lucas Deon Bok, assistant choir master of the Soweto Gospel Choir, asks the audience at a workshop the choir is hosting. ‘Did you feel it?’
Indeed, it is hard not to. The Soweto Gospel Choir performs with a comfortable, yet soulful and powerful edge that belies its 18-month-old existence, reaching out and touching every member of the audience.
‘I want the audience to experience Africa when we perform,’ Bok says. ‘I want them to be fulfilled and enriched. I want them to say that it was worth their while.’
The choir, performing at Victoria Concert Hall tonight, will more than likely accomplish this goal. Drawing its members from the churches and communities of Soweto, South Africa, the 25-strong ensemble has performed for former South African president Nelson Mandela, and has won several awards and critical acclaim for its performances.
In addition to their powerful vocals, the choir also showcases the talents of three drummers, adding a truly African feel to their performance. Their costumes, a veritable explosion of colour, only serve to further stimulate the senses.
Yet, despite the choir’s already formidable assault on the eyes and ears, perhaps its impact will be most keenly felt on the soul.
This evening, to a sold-out house, they’ll perform a selection of both contemporary and traditional African praise songs, as well as popular African songs. The choir is expected to impart a strong sense of its spiritual roots.
The sense of joy and happiness that the choir exuded while performing proved infectious to the workshop audience. For the choir members, getting on stage and singing and dancing their hearts out isn’t work. It’s their passion, and a great source of fun.
It’s easy to get lost in the choir’s enthusiasm and soulfulness – singing along and tapping your feet to the beat of their drums – it is about ‘feeling’ Africa.