18 May 2008
Sipokazi Luzipo was rejected by South African Popstars because of her ample figure — and has been praising the Lord ever since.
Told about Luzipo by friends working on the reality TV show, Johannesburg producer Beverly Bryer rang her to ask if she’d like to audition for a gospel choir being formed in Soweto to tour Australia.
“I screamed because I had never been in a plane,” recalls the 24-year old singer. “When Bev told me she was taking me (into the choir) it was the happiest day of my life.”
As a member of the Soweto Gospel Choir, Luzipo has toured the world and performed with the likes of Celine Dion, Bono and Beyonce.
One of the most exciting groups to emerge in recent years, the choir has sung for Nelson Mandela, Bill Clinton and Oprah Winfrey, who is a huge fan, and won Grammy Awards in 2007 and 2008.
Amazing to think it all began with three Australian producers.
Back in August, 2002, Andrew Kay, David Vigo and the late Clifford Hocking were planning to bring a Welsh choir to Australia the following February. When another promoter poached the choir they contacted Bryer, who they had worked with on a tour of African stage show Umoja, and asked if she could form a South African gospel choir to fill the dates.
Four months later, the Soweto Gospel Choir recorded its first album, which went to number one on Billboard’s World Music Chart.
In 2003, it performed live for the first time in Australia — and a star act was born.
“The whole journey has been a miracle,” says Kay who is presenting the choir’s new show, African Spirit, in Australia.
Luzipo, who is to marry a fellow choir member, couldn’t agree more.