Friday, August 28, 2009
The Staffordshire Sentinel
The have sung at Nelson Mandela’s birthday and shared the stage with some of music’s biggest stars. Liz Rowley talks to choirmaster Shimmy Jiyane about singing, dancing and making everyone smile.
THERE aren’t many people who can say they’ve sung with Diana Ross and Celine Dion. But then again, there aren’t many people like those found in the Soweto Gospel Choir.
Formed in November 2002, this Grammy Award-winning group excels when it comes to presenting African, and in particular South African, music – and it seems the world can’t get enough of it at the moment.
Choirmaster and choreographer Shimmy Jiyane says: “We have performed with some amazing people over the last few years – I can’t believe how much it’s grown since we started.
“We performed with Diana Ross and Celine Dion in South Africa a while ago and it was amazing.
“And we sung with Queen Latifa at Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday celebrations earlier this year.
“They seemed really happy to see us and to sing with us, and from our point of view it’s brilliant because we learn a lot from these kinds of people.”
Shimmy, who initially joined the choir as a dancer, is no stranger to the spotlight, having danced with the legendary Tina Turner.
But while dancing has always been his forte, the lively tenor’s interest in singing has increased since joining the choir.
He says: “I always preferred to dance and it’s been brilliant dancing with people like Tina Turner, but now I love singing more.
“Being with the choir has enabled me to sing with some amazing people, which is something I’ll never forget.” The Soweto Gospel Choir bring singing and dancing to the stage in a vibrant colourful show that more often than not results in sell-out audiences.
“Our show is a whole lot of singing and a whole lot of dancing,” says Shimmy.
“We love performing and our aim is to make people happy and to make them smile all the way through.”
Having appeared at the Victoria Hall on several occasions, the choir is looking forward to bringing their driving rhythms and rich harmonies back to the Potteries next month.
Shimmy says: “We like coming here because the people and the atmosphere are fantastic.
“We get great responses from all our audiences, but there is something special about the Victoria Hall and we think it’s a great place to sing.”
The Soweto Gospel Choir can be seen at the Victoria Hall, Hanley, on Friday, September 11, at 7.30pm. Call 0844 871 7649 for tickets.