February 12, 2008
Pretoria – President Thabo Mbeki has congratulated the Soweto Gospel Choir for winning their second consecutive Grammy Award, saying they continue to do the nation proud.
The choir picked up a Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music Album at the ceremony in Los Angeles on Sunday.
The 26 member group who won the Grammy for their album, African Spirit, were nominated along with four other international music acts.
Mr Mbeki on Monday said the fact that the group has managed to win the Grammy for the second year in a row signalled the recognition of its contribution to the growth of the nation”s cultural capital.
Executive Producer and Director of the Soweto Gospel Choir, Beverly Bryer – who was in Los Angeles to accept the award in 2007 – told BuaNews on Monday winning the second Grammy is an incredible feeling.
“I have spoken to our musical director Lucas Bok [who was at the Awards to accept the Grammy] and the groups absolutely ecstatic!” said Ms Bryer, who co-founded the group in November 2002 with David Mulovhedzi.
Nominees in the Best Traditional World Music Album at the 50th Grammy Awards were nominated for their albums released during the period 1 October 2006 to September 2007.
Other international musician in their category included When the Soul is Settled: Music of Iraq by Rahim Al Haj with Souhail Kaspar, From Mali to America by Cheick Hamala and Bob Carlin, Live at Couleur Café by Konono No1, and Singing For Life: Songs of Hope, Healing and HIV and AIDS in Uganda produced by Gregory Barz.
The Soweto Gospel Choir in its entirety is a 52 member group, but 26 members recently embarked on a UK Tour where they will be performing in 26 towns and cities between February and March 2008.
“The other 26 member choir is busy rehearsing for their ‘Unite of the Stars Gala Charity Event’ where they’ll be performing with Celine Dion and Danny K at the Coca Cola Dome in Johannesburg on Thursday [14 February 2008],” said Ms Bryer.
After the groups UK Tour, they will be jetting off for Lebanon, Australia, Fiji and a host of other countries she said.
Ms Bryer highlighted that the live DVD album of African Spirit will be released in the middle of the year.
The choir “which performs in six of South Africa”s eleven official languages” won Australia’s Performing Arts Award for Best Contemporary Music Concert in 2003.
In May 2004 they scooped the 2003 American Gospel Music Award for Best Choir following it up with another Gospel Music Award for Best International Choir in October 2004.
In 2004 the Soweto Gospel Choir”s debut CD, Voices from Heaven, was also nominated for a South African Music Award (SAMA) for Best Traditional Gospel.
The group’s CD, Blessed, is what fetched the Soweto Gospel Choir their very first Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music on 11 February 2007.
In April of 2007 the choir won the 2006 SAMA in the category Best Live Performance DVD.
The choir has been to the UK on a number of visits but Ms Bryer told BuaNews: “It’s like being at a rock show, the people really love them and the response to the new album has been fantastic.”