Monday 22nd October 2018,
Soweto Gospel Fans

Concert review: Soweto Gospel Choir brings the audience to its feet

By Chang Tou Liang
The Straits Times
April 17, 2015

It is a testament to the faith of a community to be united and upbeat in times of war, oppression and poverty. South Africa has had a long history of colonisation, racial discrimination and internal strife to keep its people down, but judging by the sheer exuberance of the music sung by the double Grammy-winning Soweto Gospel Choir in Thursday’s hour-and-a-half concert, part of Esplanade’s A Tapestry of Sacred Music festival, one might have thought otherwise.

The choir from the South Western Townships (an acronym of which forms its name) of Johannesburg has entertained and inspired since 2002, and its 18 singers (nine women and nine men) with two drummers and a keyboard player were an instant hit with the audience. It dedicated their show to their “father”, Nelson Mandela, which immediately drew spontaneous applause.

Their costumes of beaded headbands (for the women) and geometric patchwork designs in a riot of rainbow colours were a visual spectacle on their own. When they began to swing and sashay with their singing of traditional South African (in Zulu and Xhosa) and English gospel hymns, an infectious beat soon spread through the house.

Like the concert given by the Harlem Gospel Choir here in 2013, there was no fixed programme and the quick succession of hymns came with such a natural flow that time was soon forgotten. While the American group’s numbers resembled those heard in an evangelical church service, the Sowetans had the more earthy and exotic harmonies, those emanating from the deepest heart of Africa.
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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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