Johannesburg – South Africa’s Soweto Gospel Choir has kicked off 2007 on a very high note by winning a Grammy award for the Best Traditional World Music album for its second album Blessed.
This prestigious award was presented to the 26-member choir at the glamorous 49th annual Grammy Awards ceremony held in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Bev Bryer, the choir’s executive producer, was ecstatic about the news.
“We are thrilled at this honour. It’s every musician’s dream, and for us the dream has come true.”
“How proud we all feel in bringing the Grammy home to share with the nation.”
The choir’s director Lucas Bok commented: “We still quite can’t believe we won the award. Thanks to all have supported us on this wonderful journey.”
Sang with icons such as Bono and Diana Ross
Since the Soweto Gospel Choir’s introduction to the world four years ago, this amazing choir has amassed a growing international fan-base, performing to sold-out audiences throughout the world.
The choir has sung alongside such icons as Bono, Peter Gabriel, Queen, Diana Ross, Johnny Clegg and Jimmy Cliff, and has been heralded as the most exciting group to emerge in world music in years.
Universal Music has just released Soweto Gospel Choir’s highly anticipated new CD African Spirit in South Africa.
The choir’s versatility shines through this third CD’s diverse mix of music ranging from a capella vocals, full band arrangements and spirited percussive tracks.
While the choir sings in six of South Africa’s eleven official languages, most of the songs on this CD are sung in English, Zulu or Sotho.
Chorus for U2’s One
The choir’s social mission comes together on African Spirit with the song One, written by U2’s Bono.
Included here is a version recorded at the 2003 star-studded 46664 concert series in South Africa that was part of Nelson Mandela’s Aids Awareness Campaign.
The choir serves as an ambassador for 46664 which campaigns for those affected by the Aids pandemic in South Africa.
On Bono’s hit One, he delivers a typically strong lead vocal as the choir backs him with their thundering Zulu chorus.
South African Executive Producer/Director Beverly Bryer and Musical Director David Mulovhedzi created Soweto Gospel Choir, which comprises mostly young 20-something year old musicians, in 2002.
South African phenomenon
With the idea of forming an all-star “super-choir” Bryer and Mulovhedzi held auditions and fashioned this powerful aggregation of the best singers from Mulovhedzi’s established Holy Jerusalem Choir as well as various Soweto churches and community groups.
“Soweto Gospel Choir has become a South African phenomenon over the past few years,” states Bryer.
“When we first auditioned the choir members, we knew we had something special, but it has far exceeded our expectations – the success that the choir has achieved, nationally and internationally, is wonderful.
“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 rock superstars such as Queen and Bono, or singing Happy Birthday to Archbishop Desmond Tutu when he recently celebrated his 75th birthday here in South Africa.
“Soweto Gospel Choir is a true reflection of what South African entertainers have to offer audiences. We are all extremely proud of what it has achieved in such a short period of time.”
But all the glittering international recognition and praise that Soweto Gospel Choir receives, serves primarily to fuel its mission to “do something” about Aids in South Africa.
In 2003, the choir founded its own aids orphans’ foundation, Vukani, in conjunction with Nkosi’s Haven. The foundation raises funds for Aids orphan establishments that receive little or no government or private funding.
Nkosi’s Haven is an Aids-care project established by Gail Johnson, whose late son Nkosi, at age 11, gave a moving address to a United Nations international Aids conference that was televised world-wide.
Over 4 000 children were fed using choir funds
Through their growing fame and spiritual commitments Soweto Gospel Choir has been able to feed and clothe individuals, pay funeral costs for destitute families, and to offer assistance to the countless children orphaned by Aids yet still responsible for heading their own households.
In the past year alone, well over 4 000 children were fed using funds generated by the choir. The word Vukani means “do something!” and this is the imperative to which this phenomenal choir steers its amazing African Spirit.