Radio interview with Mandla.
I believe this is an old interview recorded in 2008, but re-released due to the Choir’s current tour of Australia.
Great to have you along as we get on board the gospel train, powered this week by the driving harmonies and rhythms of South Africa’s Soweto Gospel Choir. Their lengthy Australian tour has just begun, and in the driving seat today is Mandlenkosi Modawu, a drummer and bass singer with the choir.
Mandla was born in Pretoria and began singing aged eight in Sunday School at his local Church Apostolic Faith Mission, part of the worldwide Pentecostal movement. He went on to join the Faith Tabernacle Church as a drummer, singer and music director. In 2003 he became a member of the Soweto Gospel Choir.
Soweto Gospel Choir 2013 Image: Soweto Gospel Choir 2013 (Gerard Rowan (Millmaine Creative))
The choir was formed 12 years ago in the Johannesburg township of Soweto and while they do sing songs that you might hear in any South African township, most of their songs are the Evangelical hymns and Pentecostal gospel tunes, sung every week in churches throughout South Africa. And that’s because the 24-strong choir, directed by Beverly Bryer, draws on the best talent from the many churches in and around Soweto.
There are some 26 members in the choir singing in six of the eleven official languages of South Africa, including Zulu, Sotho, Xhosa and English. Most of the songs are performed unaccompanied, but there is a four piece band and percussion section for those moments when the dancers take to the stage. There are almost 50 million South Africans and four out of every five are Christians, so so the story of the Soweto Gospel Choir reflects a particularly South African experience.