By Javier Encalada
The Northern Star
August 21, 2016
SOWETO stands for South Western Townships, a township in the city of Johannesburg. It is home to 1.3 million people (2008 Census) in 200 sq km.
Soweto was the home of Nelson Mandela, but it is also the birthplace of another South African icon: The Soweto Gospel Choir.
After 14 years touring the world, the group has become one of the most iconic figures of South African culture abroad.
Founding member and current choreographer plus choirmaster, Vincent ‘Shimmy’ Jiyane, said the choir was his life.
“I have been with the choir since 2002 when it started, I used to be the choreographer and then i graduated to choirmaster,” he said.
“The choir is 21 or 22 people at any given time, and currently we have 11 males and 10 females.
“We tour for 11 months of the year, we go home for a month or two and then we go on the road again.
“People must expect beautiful music with rich harmonies that come from the African continent, and from South Africa.
“We are bringing a very vibrant show, a high-energy show full of passion.”
Jiyane explained that South Africa has 11 official languages and the songs in Soweto Gospel Choir’s show are sung in six of those languages.
“The main reason to create the choir was to showcase the different cultures and faiths and the talent that South Africa has, and our musical heritage.
“The idea was to show the power of music that lives in South Africa.”
Being an African show, expect dancing to be part of the offer.
“We sing a Capella and accompanied by djembe (drum), and we also put on a choreography into each and every song we do, and among the singers we also have many dancers, so you will hear us sing and you will se us dance, and you will be moved by it,” he said.