28th April 2008
Sunshine Coast Daily
The Soweto Gospel Choir will do a one-off performance in Caloundra this weekend.
Noluthando “Thando” Jiyane found the beauty of song at the tender age of six. But she did not discover its true power until she joined the Soweto Gospel Choir in 2003.
Since its first international performances in Australia in 2003, the Soweto Gospel Choir has become a worldwide phenomenon performing sellout concerts at the world’s greatest concert halls, has won two Grammys and has sung alongside superstars from Bono and Queen to Annie Lennox and Celine Dion.
This year the choir will embark on major tours of the UK, Australia, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Netherlands as well as its fourth tour of the USA.
Thando still can not believe the choir’s impact on the world.
“The Chilli Peppers, now that was crazy in the sense that we’re doing gospel and they are doing rock. We learned a whole lot of things from them. The fusion of gospel and rock was just out of this world,” she said.
“I never would have imagined being on the same stage as the likes of Bono and Beyonce.
“It never ever crossed my mind and when it happened, I thought, ‘This is it, I think we have arrived to where we are going’. It’s a dream come true.”
Born in the small village of Kwazakhele near Port Elizabeth in Africa, Thando said many of the choir members came from impoverished backgrounds.
“Where we came from we had nothing, people had no homes, people in the choir had nothing at all,” she said.
“Now we are able to afford lives so we should give back to charities at home.”
Last week, Thando and other choir members were in Soweto performing for the elderly and donating groceries and blankets to an old-aged home.
“It is a huge part of what we do. In the past few years when the choir started up we started a charity foundation called Gods with Heaven and we have been pretty involved with the Mandela foundation,” she explained.
“When we are overseas touring, we collect money after our show for non-governmental assistance, and our audiences have been very supportive. Everywhere we went they just hear the word charity and they just jump into it.”
The choir has raised more than $1 million for South African charities in just a few years.
“It’s been a great experience for everyone. In such a short time of our lives we have achieved so much,” Thando said.
Thando said the choir was ecstatic about coming back to Australia, “where it all started”.
The Soweto Gospel Choir will be in Caloundra this Friday, May 2, for one night only, so experience the joyous, powerful sound, which, as Thando said, will “sweep you off your feet”.