April 23, 2008
By Isis Symes
South Africa’s Soweto Gospel Choir sings from the heart in celebration of the human spirit.
For Jabulile Dladla, singing is living.
The longest-standing member of Africa’s Soweto Gospel Choir says if it wasn’t for the choir, she would be battling.
“It’s hard to survive in Africa but in the choir we can survive,” Jabulile said.
The 26-member choir will perform at the Townsville Civic Theatre on Saturday as part of a national tour.
“Australia is like home for us because it’s where we did our first international performance in 2003,” Jabulile said.
“This is going to be our third time there and I am very excited to be going again.”
Jabulile, 31, said she had to leave her family behind in Africa while she toured the world.
“I will admit it is hard but at the same time it’s benefiting for our family _ it’s a job for me and keeps food on the table,” she said.
Heralded as the most exciting group to emerge in world music in recent years, the two-time Grammy Award-winning choir will perform its new show, titled African Spirit.
“African Spirit celebrates the strength of the human spirit and captures the beauty and passion that is Africa,” Jabulile said.
The choir will perform a repertoire that reflects some of the history of their `rainbow nation’.
“The songs we will be performing are the ones that our ancestors used to sing,” Jabulile said.
“The repertoire ranges from the traditional African gospel song Sefapano to a new interpretation of Bob Dylan’s I’ll Remember You.”
Jabulile said the choir drew on the best talent from the many churches and communities in and around Soweto and performed in six different languages including English, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho.
“We have a lead singer, a four-piece band and the choir members who dance as well and we put our energy in everything that we do,” she said.
Jabulile said audiences could expect to see plenty of colour on stage.
“We have very bright and colourful costumes and every colour in the costumes represents a tribe in South Africa,” she said. “The choir is special _ like ambassadors of South Africa _ and it’s so special to represent my country.
Jabulile said she hoped as many people as possible would witness the show this weekend.
“They won’t regret it because when are they going to see something like this again?
“We sing from our hearts and it doesn’t matter if they’re Christian or not, we want to see all different people there.”