By Benjamin Secher
21 August 2004
The Daily Telegraph
Monday Our first full week at this year’s Edinburgh Festival began. I got up, as usual, at six-thirty, put on my headphones and thought about the evening show. I am sharing a flat with eight other guys from the choir but they never get up before nine, so the early hours are all mine.
In the afternoon, we went shopping for sneakers and mobile phones. Then it was show time: the choir sang really well – just as we had rehearsed. Following the performance, I caught an awesome Fringe show by a Spanish tap group. I love the vibe in this beautiful city, especially during the Festival.
Tuesday I had to go out early to do an interview for Canadian television. When I came back, all the guys wanted to know how it had gone; they get very excited about that sort of thing. Before leaving for afternoon rehearsal, we said a little prayer together, as always. We pray that we can maintain the standard we’ve set, and that God will look after our families back in Soweto.
After our evening show, my uncle called to say that my brother-in-law had crashed his car, but was not hurt. Then I watched a horror film on DVD.
Wednesday: This morning we performed out in Wester Hales (an underprivileged suburb) to raise money for a local Aids charity. We do a lot of similar work in South Africa where we are building a series of clinics. We have had hard times in Soweto, but people are optimistic and things are getting better. For me, the highlight of our show tonight was a special rendition of the South African national anthem. Conducting your own country’s anthem on the world stage is the greatest thing you can ever do.
Thursday I wasn’t feeling too well vocally so I stayed at home, taking painkillers and gargling salt water. In the afternoon I fell asleep with my headphones on – the drugs really knocked me out. By evening I felt better and the performance went smoothly, in front of another capacity crowd. We are the top-selling show at the Fringe.
Compared to elsewhere, Edinburgh audiences are reserved, but if you look at their faces you can see they are paying attention to every detail. Friday I spent the day at the hospital. It was so different from hospitals at home; more like an airport, with all the lounges and electric doors.
One of the ladies from the choir had become seriously ill, so I went to cheer her up by chatting and singing. I have been singing all my life. Whenever we had problems back home, my mum used to get a little hum or something going in the kitchen. Music has the power to restore – that is what we have come here to show people.