By Chris Campbell
June 9, 2011
Out World Today
The Soweto Gospel Choir blessed the Sunshine Coast this week and OWT news was lucky enough to go back-stage and meet the stars.
All the way from South Africa the mix of vocalists have been touring Australia since May, harmonising and memorising crowds with songs from the new ‘African Grace’ album.
It was no exception this time round.
Choreographer and lead tenor, Shimmy Jiyane, said that he has loved Australia so far, traveling everywhere from Hobart to Alice Springs.
“I like Australia very much…Melbourne, I like Melbourne a lot,” said Shimmy.
But one of his main passions is sharing and expressing culture through music.
“Culture and music is something that brings to you yourself, where you need to know yourself,” said Shimmy.
“I am Shimmy, I know myself, where I come from, I know my culture and I know what’s my language.”
“You need to know where is your roots, where did I (you) come from…where you were born and all those things, so it’s very important.”
“We tour all over the world, and we get to meet so many people, so its important to meet other cultures so that you wont have a problem when you go to their country and you don’t know what’s happening.”
“Like when we were in Spain.”
“You say you wanna go out, the shops are closed, and you’re like, what’s happening here, there is nobody out on the streets.” – siesta.
Believing in music as a form of cultural expression, Shimmy also urges children to pick up an instrument to expand their life skills.
“First you must go to school and get an education, but then go to a musical school…and learn how to play an instrument, and read music, that’s important too,” said Shimmy.
Founded in 2002 and boasting four Grammy nominations, the choir has had its run of success.
Sharing earthy rhythms and rich harmonies, the show is certainly an exciting and emotion filled experience. But there is a much deeper connection to the music that passionately resonates not only in the music itself, but in the hearts of the individuals singing.
In 2003 the choir founded it’s own AID’s orphanage foundation, Nkosi’s Haven Vukani. To date the choir has raised 1.5 million dollars for their foundation.
Growing up in Soweto, a low economic area within Johannesburg in South Africa, Shimmy, like many of the people from this township had to work hard to get where they have. Inspired by his grandmother, Shimmy and the singers of this choir are certainly proof that with belief anything is possible, and not forgetting their roots, as Shimmy says, their foundation is making a difference in thousands of children’s lives.
When I asked him what piece of advice he would give a young kid in Soweto, he said, ‘if you wanna make it, you gotta have faith.’
Something that shone from everyone performing in the choir.
To find date of their final shows in Australia please see www.sowetogospelchoir.com
To see the back-stage interview and video of this weeks Sunshine Coast performance please view the above video.