February 6, 2014
The Greenville News
The Soweto Gospel Choir tours internationally but the ensemble’s singers particularly love American audiences.
Because Americans are the quickest to shout “Amen!”
“Americans are really special,” said Sipokazi Luzipo, a founding member of the group.
“We love the feedback that we get in America,” she added. “You’ll find someone who’ll give you an ‘Amen!’ or a ‘Hallelujah!’ We always appreciate that. That’s what we’re all about — touching souls and inspiring people. So when we get that feedback, we know we’re on the right track and that the music is doing something to people’s hearts and souls.”
The Soweto Gospel Choir will be hoping for a bountiful vocal response in Greenville when it performs Sunday afternoon at the Peace Center.
The ensemble features 26 singers as well as dancers and a band.
The high-energy choir is presenting a sort of “greatest hits” tour on its sixth visit to the U.S.
“The program celebrates the 10 years we’ve been together,” Luzipo said, speaking on the phone from South Africa. “We’ve chosen some of the best songs that the choir has sung in the past.”
The program, dedicated to the memory of the late South African president Nelson Mandela, includes a number of traditional South African songs but also some American material like the Simon and Garfunkel hit “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and Sarah Maclachlan’s “Arms of an Angel.”
“There are several numbers American audiences will be able to identify with,” Luzipo said.
The choir finds that fans throughout the world respond readily to the group’s joyous music.
“Some of the audiences are initially reserved because the sound is so new to them, but by the end of the show we find the people up on their feet dancing and understanding what our gospel music is about,” Luzipo said.
In addition to performing, the choir created its own orphan foundation.
“When we come back from tour, we buy books, we buy blankets and medicine, whatever is needed,” Luzipo said. “We want to benefit the community at large.”