August 30, 2011
WHEN the Soweto Gospel Choir travels to Nottingham in early October, they’ll be bringing quite a bit with them.
Their vibrant and uplifting show features 24 singers, dancers and musicians, as well as beautiful traditional South African dress and a colourful set.
There’s just one thing missing. And if you’re in a choir, it could be you.
The Soweto choir and the Royal Concert Hall are looking for a local choir to entertain guests on the evening of the concert. The selected choir will perform for the audience in the Royal Concert Hall’s foyer before everybody heads in to see the Grammy-winning South African choir.
They’ll also get an exclusive backstage look at the choir as they prepare for their show – and maybe a few tips and pointers from some of the best at their craft.
“We’re looking for a local choir that sounds good, that’s confident and that has character,” choirmaster Shimmy Jiyane said.
“We want the choir that will be confident; the choir that will never shy away from the audience; the choir that will sing what they love singing and what they love doing.”
So, what advice does Shimmy have for choirs?
“We tell them always: when they do a song they must get the people who are singing the song to get into the song.
“We can never sing and just be singing.”
It might say something about the Soweto Gospel Choir’s approach that Shimmy’s the choirmaster but much of his musical background is in dance.
You can’t just stand there, he said, you’ve got to do something; you’ve got to get the crowd into it.
“That’s what attracts people,” he said. “People want to see that.”
While the Soweto Gospel Choir does come from a specifically Christian background, Shimmy said they’d sung with all sorts of groups. They are about an uplifting message and beautiful sounds that transcend all else.
“What I always say to the people is ‘yes we are a gospel choir,'” Shimmy said. “But we don’t always sing gospel music. We sings songs that have a very strong message, a very positive message.”
Soweto Gospel Choir shows include both traditional and contemporary songs sung in a uniquely African style.
As the name indicates, the choir hails from the Soweto area of Johannesburg that was a hotbed of resistance in apartheid-era South Africa. Their sound draws on both traditional African and African-American gospel.
They won back-to-back Grammies for Best Traditional World Music Album in 2007 and 2008.
Choirs wishing to enter the competition should send the name of their choir, address details, contact phone number, details of what the choir would sing, and preferably also some footage of their choir performing, to: firstname.lastname@example.org or by post to: Sarah Johnson, Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND. The deadline for entries is Sunday, September 11 and the winning choir will be decided by public vote through www.trch.co.uk.
The Soweto Gospel Choir performs at the Royal Concert Hall on Sunday, October 2, at 7.30pm. Tickets are £18.50 to £25 on 0115 989 5555, from www.trch.co.uk or at the box office.