By Lesley Mofokeng
29 May 2013
The humble and small celebration at Rosebank Mall’s Dance Junxion this morning didn’t fit the high profile of the Soweto Gospel Choir.
Boasting two Grammy Awards, an Emmy Award, SA Music Awards, and having performed at the Oscars all in just 10 years, easily makes this the world’s best choir.
So we gathered in one of the rehearsal rooms of the Dance Junxion with 5FM DJ Gareth Cliff as the only famous face and the morning’s host, who waxed lyrical about the rise of Soweto Gospel Choir.
It all started at the Yeoville Recreation Centre with a call for auditions for an African vocal group to tour Australia.
After some dates at the Sydney Opera House, the group was made to stay. They came to the world’s attention at the 46664 Concert in Cape Town, backing the world’s greatest musicians from Bono and U2 to Youssou N’Dour and Peter Gabriel in 2003.
They have since toured the world and performed to sold-out halls and won acclaim money can’t buy. In 2009, they performed Down To Earth with John Legend at the Academy Awards in Los Angeles and have sang at the 2010 World Cup kick off concert, Bill Clinton’s personal fundraiser, Desmond Tutu’s 75th birthday celebrations and Oprah Winfrey’s VIP celebration at Sun City in 2006.
As Cliff rightfully pointed out, they have friends in high places and impress everybody with their spirituality. “They are a perfect representation of what our country represents,” he said. A recorded congratulatory message by Tutu, their patron, was played.
The choir announced their monthlong tour of Canada (which includes the Montreal Jazz Festival), where they hope to meet with Aretha Franklin whose song Bridge Over Troubled Water they performed for guests including Universal Music executives Lindelani Mkhize and Nkateko Maluleke during the mini-concert they put together.
Their rousing performance of Arms of an Angel and the energetic Emlanjeni/Yelele were highlights of the morning.
Later on, everyone went to admire their enviable trophy haul that includes a coveted Grammy and swoon over the gigantic golden-themed cake.
» Their latest album Divine Decade is in stores.