Sarah Bryan Miller
Friday, March 23
St. Louis Today
The fusion of Christianity and native musical styles has resulted in thousands of independent churches in South Africa — and in thousands of choirs. The colorfully costumed and choreographed, 52-voice Soweto Gospel Choir, founded in 2002, has performed with artists as diverse as U2 and Diana Ross. We spoke with music director (and tenor and keyboardist) Vusimuzi Shabalala.
Did most of the singers grow up singing in church? Yes. Some are trained, but most are self-taught musicians. In South Africa, our parents teach us a lot. Every time you start walking, they will sing a song for you.
How varied are your shows? We have 11 languages in South Africa, and we sing in six of them. We have different dances that we do, mostly traditional, and we have a tap piece this time.
Did your success surprise you? It is such an amazing thing. We didn’t think could happen to us. But we got to be known around the world as a big choir from around South Africa that has made it.