By Robert Virtue
July 31, 2014
ABC Central West NSW
If you go online and check out any of their videos, you’ll soon realise that the Soweto Gospel Choir is a rare type of singing group.
They’re loud, proud, energetic and colourful.
Their enthusiasm is infectious and their vocal skills are mesmerising.
What’s more, the choir is about to grace stages in Orange and Dubbo as part of their national tour.
“The energy that we get from the audience is what really makes us look forward to performing in every new city,” says the choir’s musical director, tenor and lead guitarist, Kevin Williams.
“The screaming and the clapping just motivate you to want to continue doing what you’re doing, but so far we’ve enjoyed every single performance that we’ve done for the people of Australia.”
The Soweto Gospel Choir formed in 2002, and has since scooped the pool of international music awards, winning Grammys, a Helpmann Award, an Emmy, and a string of industry accolades in their native South Africa.
One of their early gigs was in suburban Melbourne and is a moment the choir credits as integral to their success.
“This is a home away from home, because Australia basically gave birth to the Soweto Gospel Choir,” says Kevin.
The tour to western NSW will pay tribute to former South African president, Nelson Mandela, who died in late 2013.
“His legacy still goes on. He’s actually been one of our biggest fans, [and] the things that he’s done in the past are still relevant today,” says Kevin.
“We can now come out as the Soweto Gospel Choir and be ambassadors for South Africa, not just presenting South Africa, but also doing music as well is what we love.”
Kevin says the tight-knit group is looking forward to touring western NSW and sharing a slice of their culture with the region.
“Eighty per cent of the members that you see today on stage are some of the founding members,” he says.
“We’ve grown beyond a point where we’re just friends. We’re a family now.
“We’re so united [and] our family is so strong that we’re just going higher and higher and higher, because the depth of our foundation is very deep.”