Friday 20th September 2019,
Soweto Gospel Fans

Soweto Gospel Choir @ Festival de Jazz (Montreal)

By: Sarah Meublat
Thorium Magazine
July 6, 2013

(the below is a rough English translation of the original review done in French)

This Saturday, the majestic Symphony House of Montreal turned into a cathedral lit by the Soweto Gospel Choir. A colorful and energizing concert, offering a packed audience a catchy musical mass. A trip loaded with soul to South African colors.

Preaching the gospel around the world since 2002, the musical training of the Soweto Gospel Choir continues its meteoric rise. Originally from the famous township on the outskirts of Johannesburg, where the anti-apartheid revolt was born, the company with two Grammy Awards was hoisted by unifying voice as an ambassador of freedom South Africa. At a time when the hero goes off, the spectacle of the Soweto Gospel Choir was therefore a special flavor.

Dressed in long colorful robes, nine women and eleven men composing the band have distilled their joie de vivre. Classic gospel songs (This Little Light of Mine, Amen) mingled harmoniously with contemporary or traditional African songs, and even to international hits (Bridge Over Troubled Water by Garfunkel, Many Rivers to Cross by Jimmy Cliff and Angel by Sarah McLachlan) . Sublimated by multi-hued voice, these songs were supported by one or two djembes, sometimes a keyboard, and sometimes punctuated by Zulu dances, sometimes hip hop or gumboot, this dance was born under the feet of black workers during apartheid .

On Saturday afternoon, feet slamming, legs sprang the body vibrated. Acrobatic theater, loaded with humor, spiritual and generous, the South African artists have captured the Montreal public, although chilly for most of the show is finally lifted, through applause. At the request of the spirited band, the crowd waddled on the famous Pata Pata by Miriam Makeba. We were far from African churches and their transported energy. The songs were clean, controlled. But their beauty was no less resplendent.

I remember this concert up color three memorable moments, full of magic and poignant commitment. Asimbonanga sung by a woman with clear and powerful voice, backed by a djembe and vocals. Famous song Savuka mixed South African band, Asimbonanga (“We do not have”) was written in Zulu and English as a musical art and politics dedicated to Mandela when he languished in prison on Robben Island. A song that was at the time the effect of a bomb as he was bold. I also accept the hymn to freedom, sung with a zest for life overflowing in honor of Madiba. A resounding if not tearful tribute. Because that’s life will be remembered joy going out with the packed crowd and invigorated the Montreal Symphony House. A life celebrated in color, with heart, humor and commitment. Notes of Oh Happy Day, the last song (could not be more predictable, but no less memorable) sound again.

Finally, the Soweto Gospel Choir is a great introduction to the Gospel. The band has built westernized kind, giving it the appearance of a great show and professionalizing. The show was brilliant and invigorating. But nothing ever equal sincerity, simplicity and musical devotion small choirs in remote lands. While the songs are often overlooked, no international headlines, but the authenticity and energy bordering on trance will be tenfold.

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About The Author

From the Great White North of Canada, Elaine is the owner and maintainer of SGF. Besides being a big-time Soweto Gospel Choir fan, she is passionate about world travel, technology, all sports and above all the great mangosteen fruit. Oh, and she can't sing to save her love! :)

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