The West Australian
May 17, 2011
As a friend said to me after Friday night’s amazing celebration of grace in its many forms by South Africa’s famed Soweto Gospel Choir: “You can’t fake those smiles.”
Nor can you fake the sheer joy in just being alive which seemed to govern every move by these colourfully clad singers, dancers and instrumentalists as they sang and swayed their way through African Grace, a concert featuring traditional and more contemporary songs and hymns in Zulu, Sotho, Ndebele, Xhosa and English, including Jesu Ngowethu, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Kae Le Kae, This Little Light of Mine, and Pata Pata.
The twin birds of soul and R&B soared over the traditional African rhythms and Western hymn-style harmonies as soloists such as tenor Shimmy Jiyane, soprano Jehoschefatt Fata, alto Sibongile Makgathe and bass Vusumuzi Madondo poured their hearts out, eliciting enormous cheers from an enthusiastic audience.
As did the dancing which graced the solos and the choruses.
The coordinated high-kicks, stomps, dips and spins displayed the same combination of tradition and innovation, of planning and improvisation, as the vibrant musical arrangements.
Mention, too, should be made of the wonderful band – comprising percussion, guitars and keyboards – whose contribution was especially valuable during the encores.
At that point, the audience was invited to clap, dance and sing along – which it did with an abandon rarely seen in the Concert Hall.